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From Word to Eucharist

Let us remind ourselves that our union around the table today is a foretaste of the union still to come.

READ MORE at Lector Works

Fr. Tony’s Homilies

Overview
1st & 2nd Reading
Gospel Exegesis
Life Messages
Homily Illustrations
Jokes of the Week

Faith Sharing,
Discussion,
Bible Study

Over 50 questions each week from which to pick and choose.

Larry Broding
Fr. Eamon Tobin
Fr. Clement Thibodeau
Vince Contreras

INTROFIRSTPSALMSECONDGOSPELCATENA AUREA

Commentary

1B Advent

Pastoral resources from the National Catholic Reporter
OVERVIEW

Alert to the signs of the times

By: Sr. Mary M. McGlone

There’s an old joke with lots of variations that says that kids were out playing in the parish yard and they saw Jesus coming. They ran into the church offices and excitedly told the secretary. He looked out the window and then ran to the DRE. The DRE hurried into the administrator’s office and pointed out the window. The administrator then burst into the pastor’s office with the crowd trailing her and said, “Jesus is on the playground and he’s headed for the office! What shall we do?” The pastor, startled, dropped his agenda, and seeing everybody in high fluster turned his chair and looked out the window. Suddenly he stood up, grabbed his hat and stole and car keys, and shouted, “Look busy!”

That’s not far from what Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” Jesus compared the coming of the Son of Man to a master who left his servants in charge of the home front. Ironically, while the householder left all the servants with jobs to do, Jesus warned that the master could well return during their time off — dinner, late-night, pre-dawn and dawn. About the only people who worked those hours were fishermen. (Except, of course, the mothers who were on 24-hour call for babies and the sick.)

The precise times Jesus mentioned just happened to be key moments in the passion he was about to undergo. The passion events began with an evening meal at which he told his disciples that he gave his life for them. He asked his friends to keep prayerful vigil with him in the night. At cockcrow Peter denied knowing him. On one early morning he was condemned and on another, three days later, the women discovered that he had been raised. It was only during one of those moments that the disciples actually fell asleep, but in each of them they either missed or denied the deeper meaning of what was happening.

The key here seems to be to pay attention to what is happening, no matter what time it is. In our first reading, Isaiah laments the way people have gone astray, forgetting God’s call and presence among them. He begs God to rend the heavens, to wake the people up to what God is trying to form them to be. Pope Francis puts that and Jesus’ call into contemporary terms in The Joy of the Gospel when he says: “I do exhort all the communities to an ‘ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times’. This is in fact a grave responsibility” (EG #51). In the same paragraph, he goes on to say, “This involves not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also — and this is decisive — choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil.”

Advent is probably the Church season most vulnerable to corruption and being overshadowed by everything that coincides with it. Whereas the Church starts to celebrate Christmas on the night of December 24 and continues through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, society rolls into holiday mode after Halloween and into uncompromising materialism beginning with “black Friday.” Our cultural Christmas ends abruptly on the night of December 25 — leaving only the tree that nobody wants to take down. Ironically, there is nothing more distracting from the mood of Advent than our culture’s preparations for Christmas.

Our readings remind us that as of today we are not simply getting into the commercial Christmas season but entering into a season of conversion. Isaiah’s prayer calls on God to be the potter forming the clay of our lives. Jesus calls us to be alert to God’s unexpected appearances in our lives. Pope Francis tells us it is time to discern the spirit of the age in order to increase the good in the world and thwart evil tendencies.

How do our readings orient us to enter into this Advent — the shortest one possible? Traditionally we talk about Advent as a time of waiting. This week’s readings emphasize watching — watching for the signs of God’s presence, watching for the ways in which God desires to act as the potter of the clay of our lives. Jesus told the disciples that the master could show up at any hour — when we should be at our task or in moments of well-deserved rest. The task of discipleship then is not so much to be busy as it is to stay alert.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.
PLANNING

First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

By: Lawrence Mick

Advent is here, but it won’t be here long. This year is as short as it can be. The fourth week of Advent will be only one day (actually less than a day if you have Christmas Eve Masses earlier than your usual Saturday Mass). So it behooves us to make the most of the three full weeks we have for this season this year.

Will the environment of the worship space this weekend proclaim the change of season? Will people entering the church recognize quickly that Ordinary Time is over and the season of preparation is here? Though they are very different seasons, there are still some similarities between Advent and Lent. Both use violet vestments, both call for minimal décor and restrained music, and both are preparatory periods.

Today’s first reading and Gospel also remind us that Advent is a time for repentance and new beginnings. Advent does not have the deep penitential character of Lent, but it does call us to prepare for the (second) coming of the Lord, which should prompt us to ask how ready we are if he comes during this season of longing for his return in glory.

The first reading is a strong call to renewal. “Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?” “Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind.” These words are balanced somewhat by the ending: “we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”

That reminds us that God always is ready to forgive and invites us to spiritual transformation. The Gospel issues a warning, too: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” That also calls us to repentance and reform of our lives.

These texts could serve well for an Advent penance service, too, so planners might keep them in mind. There may seem to be some contradiction between these texts and the idea that Advent is a joyful season of anticipation. The key is to recognize that God’s mercy is a reason for joy and that we cannot rejoice in God’s love if we are living in a way that keeps us distant from God. Repentance leads to forgiveness which leads to transformation and joy. Preachers and planners should keep that perspective in mind when preparing homilies and prayer texts and choosing music for this season.

Note: We switch today to Cycle B in the Lectionary and Year II for daily readings.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved.
PRAYERS

First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

By: Joan DeMerchant

Introduction

In the midst of pre-holiday hyperactivity, we are offered this quiet season of reflection on Christ’s coming among us, especially in unexpected moments. As with our ancestors in faith, his final return is unknown to us, so we probably don’t think about it very much. But how aware are we of his presence to us now? Have we thought about what our response might be however or whenever he makes himself known to us? Advent is our time to do this.

Penitential Act

  • Lord Jesus, you told your disciples to be alert: Lord, have mercy.
  • Christ Jesus, you warned us that your coming will be unannounced: Christ, have mercy.
  • Lord Jesus, you call us to be ever watchful for you: Lord, have mercy.

Prayer of the Faithful

Presider My friends, let us pray to live this holy season in quiet anticipation of Christ’s coming among us.

Minister For the church, that we may be open to Christ’s ongoing presence among us…we pray in hope and anticipation.

  1. For those long waiting for peace, justice and healing… we pray in hope and anticipation.
  2. For those unable to focus on the deeper meaning of this season… we pray in hope and anticipation.
  3. For the gift of quiet reflection in the midst of constant distractions and for the desire to enter into this pre-holiday season in new and different ways…we pray in hope and anticipation.
  4. For those whose view of the future is dark, fearful or discouraging… we pray in hope and anticipation.
  5. For the many needs of this community and those we care for… we pray in hope and anticipation.

Presider God of patience, this is a season of impatience. We wait for what is yet to come, and we struggle with pre-holiday demands that drain our time and energy. Give us alert, yet peaceful and patient hearts that focus on your deep presence among us and all the ways you make yourself known to us. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus, whose coming we yearn for. Amen.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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GOSPEL

MK 13:33-37

commentary

CREDIT:  Many websites have used this photo over the years for the first week of Advent. (cf. TinEye's reverse image search)
RELATED: Visit LectioTube's Advent section for reflections, advent calendars, Art & Faith videos, season introduction videos, children videos and activities, songs, and prayers.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come." — Mark 13:33

Read more about photo
CREDIT:  Many websites have used this photo over the years for the first week of Advent. (cf. TinEye's reverse image search)
RELATED: Visit LectioTube's Advent section for reflections, advent calendars, Art & Faith videos, season introduction videos, children videos and activities, songs, and prayers.

REFLECTIONS

  • Fr. Eamon:  Always be ready
  • Fr. Clement: We need to be alert tot he coming of the Lord
  • Sr. Mary: God’s ongoing advent into our lives

FOCAL THEMES

  • Life Recovery: Uncertainty about timing / difficulties in recovery
  • Theology of Work: Cycle B Gospel readings are from Mark

BIBLE STUDY

  • Sermon Writer: What I tell you, I tell all: Watch
  • Agape: Be alert and watch for the coming of the master!

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1ST READING

IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

commentary

CREDIT: Bishop Robert Barron  (November 30, 2008 Podcast)
RELATED:  Our first reading for this first Sunday of Advent gives us the master image of God as the potter and we, his creatures, as clay. St. Irenaeus said that God’s provident direction of our lives is easy as long as the clay of our hearts remains supple and moist. Trouble comes only when we allow the clay to harden.

O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands. — Isaiah 64:7

Read more about photo
CREDIT: Bishop Robert Barron  (November 30, 2008 Podcast)
RELATED:  Our first reading for this first Sunday of Advent gives us the master image of God as the potter and we, his creatures, as clay. St. Irenaeus said that God’s provident direction of our lives is easy as long as the clay of our hearts remains supple and moist. Trouble comes only when we allow the clay to harden.

REFLECTIONS

  • Fr. Eamon:  The return from exile
  • Fr. Clement: A call upon God to come down again to save
  • Sr. Mary: God as father and redeemer

FOCAL THEMES

  • Life Recovery: Faith and patience
  • Theology of Work: Work’s ultimate meaning

BIBLE STUDY

  • Sermon Writer: We are clay, and you our potter
  • Agape: God our redeemer

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RESPONSORIAL PSALM

PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

commentary

CREDIT:  Pope Francis attends Vesper Prayer Service at St. Paul Basilica on January 25, 2015 in Rome, Italy. See a similar photo by Franco Origlia at Getty Images
RELATED: The phrase “enthroned between the cherubim” (Is 37:16), in fact, was a name for God, whose earthly seat in the Jerusalem Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, guarded on each side by cherubim. The seat, then, was an image of God’s own authority, and, importantly, the authority he deputed to humanity to administer in his name. (That Other “Seat of Wisdom”—The Role of the Celebrant’s Chair in the Life of the Church by Denis R. McNamara | Adoremus)

"O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power, and come to save us." — Ps 80:2-3

Read more about photo
CREDIT:  Pope Francis attends Vesper Prayer Service at St. Paul Basilica on January 25, 2015 in Rome, Italy. See a similar photo by Franco Origlia at Getty Images
RELATED: The phrase “enthroned between the cherubim” (Is 37:16), in fact, was a name for God, whose earthly seat in the Jerusalem Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, guarded on each side by cherubim. The seat, then, was an image of God’s own authority, and, importantly, the authority he deputed to humanity to administer in his name. (That Other “Seat of Wisdom”—The Role of the Celebrant’s Chair in the Life of the Church by Denis R. McNamara | Adoremus)

COMMENTARY

Life Recovery: Bringing hope to others.


BIBLE STUDY

  • Agape: Come O Lord to save us

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2ND READING

1 COR 1:3-9

commentary

CREDIT:  Monsignor Edward Puleo presents holy communion during held mass with people in attendance, and social distancing, at St. Brigid Church in Peapack , N.J. June, 14, 2020
RELATED: One of the reasons the Catholic church teaches that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sundays, is not because our Holy Mother Church wants to be strict and impose a lot of rules on us. It is so that, “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Without that continuous support that we receive during our worship of God and reception of the sacraments, we run a great risk of straying away from the faith. If you miss Mass once, it gets a little easier to miss it the next time, and so it goes, until you just don’t feel like going at all anymore. If a person persists in that state, it could jeopardize their eternal salvation, if death should catch them off guard. —from He will keep you firm to the end (A Catholic Moment) by Laura Kazlas

"He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. " — 1 Corinthians 1:8

Read more about photo
CREDIT:  Monsignor Edward Puleo presents holy communion during held mass with people in attendance, and social distancing, at St. Brigid Church in Peapack , N.J. June, 14, 2020
RELATED: One of the reasons the Catholic church teaches that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sundays, is not because our Holy Mother Church wants to be strict and impose a lot of rules on us. It is so that, “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Without that continuous support that we receive during our worship of God and reception of the sacraments, we run a great risk of straying away from the faith. If you miss Mass once, it gets a little easier to miss it the next time, and so it goes, until you just don’t feel like going at all anymore. If a person persists in that state, it could jeopardize their eternal salvation, if death should catch them off guard. —from He will keep you firm to the end (A Catholic Moment) by Laura Kazlas

REFLECTIONS

  • Fr. Eamon:  Waiting for Christ’s second coming
  • Fr. Clement: We are gifted by Christ as we await his coming
  • Sr. Mary: Understanding Paul’s writing

FOCAL THEMES

  • Life Recovery: Confronting others about their failures
  • Theology of Work: Spiritual resources available

BIBLE STUDY

  • Sermon Writer: I always thank my God concerning you
  • Agape: Fellowship with Christ while waiting for his return

First Reading

1B Advent

commentary
CREDIT: Bishop Robert Barron  (November 30, 2008 Podcast)
RELATED:  Our first reading for this first Sunday of Advent gives us the master image of God as the potter and we, his creatures, as clay. St. Irenaeus said that God’s provident direction of our lives is easy as long as the clay of our hearts remains supple and moist. Trouble comes only when we allow the clay to harden.

O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands. — Isaiah 64:7

IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

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We have not seen any God like you!

  • The first reading was written after the Israelites returned from exile and resettled in Judah.
  • The people were discouraged by widespread poverty, dissension among their leaders, and the overwhelming task of rebuilding the ruins.
  • The prophet challenges the Israelites to persevere at their task.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

REFLECTIONS

IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

A call upon God to come down again to save

FIRST READING—The reading comes from a longer passage (Isaiah 63:7 to 64:12), really a psalm where the prophet calls upon God to spare the people who have lost everything. They are in exile in Babylon; the Temple has been destroyed; Jerusalem is in ruins. Only if God sends his love again can this people be ready to receive God in their midst once more. The prophet confesses the sins of the people. They have stayed in their sins a long time. They are like those who are radically unclean among whom they live now. Even their good works are like a soiled garment. They have no stability and no rootedness. No one prays anymore. They reap the rewards of the wickedness they have sowed. But, God is their father,is he not? Did God not mold them like a potter molds a valuable piece of pottery? There ishope for them since it is the God who made them who will now rescue them.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

God as father and redeemer

FIRST READING—Today’s selection from one of Isaiah’s prayers of lament begins with a phrase we may too often take for granted, thereby missing its profound implications. Isaiah says, “You, Lord, are our father.” That declaration says as much about the people of Israel as it does about God. This statement modified everything the people would think about themselves as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This redefined them as something other than related clans or the nation Moses led out of Egypt. When Isaiah declared that God was their Father, he defined them as a people united by a spiritual bond that originated in God and God alone. Whether or not they were related by tribe, whether or not they could call themselves a nation with territory or governance, whether or not they shared a common language, the very core of their identity came from God’s relationship to them as their father. They were who they were because of their shared relationship to the God who gave them being, who guided their life together and called them to be a people.

In the very next breath, Isaiah says “You are our redeemer.” That called to mind the myriad of times that God rescued this people from Egypt and from other enemies throughout their history. In Isaiah’s worldview, God controlled history. Isaiah laments that God had allowed this people to wander – not the wandering of the desert, that long learning period that prepared them to enter the holy land, but wandering away from God. Calling on God as their Redeemer reminds them that God, and God alone, can be trusted. They know this from their history. As redeemer, God and God alone can rescue them from what they have brought on themselves. The gist of this part of the prayer begs God to act like the God they know. Their hearts have become hardened, but God can break through that. The cry, “Rend the heavens and come down!” is a way of saying “Remind us of who you are! Re-instill in us the fear of the Lord that trembles at your greatness. Make us your people!”

Underneath this lament Isaiah knows that God’s love and faithfulness are deeper and more powerful than the people’s sin. They may be delivered up to their guilt, they may be suffering the consequences of their sin, but God is still their father. God’s grace will win out because God is the potter and they are the clay.

As we begin Advent, Isaiah invites us to join him in lament, to recognize our own communal wandering from God. He reminds us that when we avoid being mindful of God, even what we think of as our good deeds end up being like “polluted rags,” a sham rather than the works of a humble and sincere heart. Isaiah speaks this entire prayer/poem in the first person plural. As he prays, he identifies with his own people in all their sin and all their potential. He invites us to do the same, to take responsibility for who we are as a people and a Church, to admit the ways in which we are wandering far from God’s ways and to ask for God’s grace and an awareness of God’s presence.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

The return from exile

FIRST READING—The 66 chapters of the Book of Isaiah contain the work of three prophets who lived at different times. Today’s reading is from “Third Isaiah” and deals with a very difficult time in Israel’s history: their return from the Babylonian exile. When the exiles return, they find their land has been pillaged,and Jerusalem, including the Temple,has been destroyed.

They blame God for allowing them to wander from his ways. They long for a new entrance of God into their lives(“Return for the sake of your servants….”)They are clay and entreatGod the Potter to refashion them again into the people he wants them to be.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

LECTOR TIPS

IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

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Paul J. Schlachter

For you have hidden your face from us.  I hear an urgent appeal filled with grief.  The people have become withered like leaves, carried away by the wind.

And yet they do not give up hope.  Return for the sake of your servantsNo ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds.

The prophet asks God for a theophany as in the days of Moses and Elijah.  Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you.

He expresses deep feelings, in the name of a people whose ambitions had been frustrated, even trampled upon, by the empires of history.  Over the years I have witnessed and shared the private griefs of those forced to leave their country, those whose homes have been destroyed by hurricane and await long promised relief, those who have lost their spouse or parent or child to the ravages of war.  Why do you let us wander?  How can I read these words without feeling?

I read this lengthy passage once during a liturgy in Costa Rica, doing it in such a way that the homilist was obliged to comment on it.  Given a confession charged with such sincere emotion, it was not hard for me to read with feeling.  At times like that I came to understand that proclamation in its fullest sense includes reception of the word as well as effective delivery.

Central theme: At the beginning and end of the passage I hear the prophet affirming God: You are our Father.  There must be a reason why we never hear the word “believe” in the Hebrew Testament.  God’s abiding love for Israel is as self-evident as the rising of the sun every day.  To talk about faith, in the face of such an overwhelming presence, is to insult God.

Message for our assembly: If our faith comes too easy for us, then something must be lacking in it – something more needed, as Jesus said to the young man.  Israel in its anguish and its enduring hope will remind us that our faith must be grounded in God’s will, carried out in God’s own time.

I will challenge myself: To imitate the invincible trust of the people of Israel, leading the congregation through the depths of misfortune, the silence and self-doubt, to the true God who is always with us – Emmanuel.

READ MORE by Paul at Lector Works
Greg Warnusz

INTRODUCTION FOR LISTENERS:

After two generations in exile in Babylon, the Jews were allowed to return to their home in Judah. They believed they had been sent to exile as punishment for their sins. They were repentant and hopeful. The third prophet to bear the name Isaiah speaks of their mixed feelings.

ORAL INTERPRETATION:

The reading contains a pathetic mix of feelings: guilt, outrage at God alternating with praise of God, humility, anguish and hope. Read it to yourself one sentence at a time, naming the feeling captured in that one sentence. Then do the next sentence, and so on. Make a mental catalog (or even a paper list) of each feeling.

Then practice reading it aloud, making sure you pause wherever the feeling changes. This is a hard passage to read. It’s even harder for a listener to understand if the sentences just tumble out rapidly. Give your listeners all the help you can.

READ MORE by Greg at LectorPrep.org

FOCAL THEMES

IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

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Theology of Work Commentary

Work’s ultimate meaning

FIRST READING—Throughout the book, Isaiah encourages Israel with the hope that God will eventually put to right the wrongs the people are suffering in the present. Work, and the fruits of work, are included in this hope.

In chapters 60-66, this hope is finally expressed in full. God will gather his people together again (Is. 60:4), vanquish the oppressors (Is. 60:12-17), redeem the rebellious who repent (Is. 64:5-65:10), and establish his just kingdom (Is. 60:3-12). In place of Israel’s faithless leaders, God himself will rule: “You shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Is. 60:16). The change is so radical that it amounts to a new creation, of parallel power and majesty to God’s first creation of the world. “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Is. 65:17).

Chapters 60-66 are rich with vivid portraits of the perfect kingdom of God. In fact, a large fraction of New Testament imagery and theology are drawn from these chapters in Isaiah. The final chapters of the New Testament (Revelation 21 and 22) are, in essence, a recapitulation of Isaiah 65-66 in Christian terms.

It may be surprising to some how much of Isaiah 60-66 is related to work and the outcomes of work. The things people work for in life come to complete fruition at last, including:

  • Markets and trading, including the movement of gold and silver (Is. 60:6,9), the bringing of firs, and the opening of gates for trade. “Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut, so that nations shall bring you their wealth, with their kings led in procession.” (Is. 60:11)
  • Agricultural and forest products: including frankincense, flocks, rams (Is. 60:6-7), cypress and pine (Is. 6:13)
  • Transportation by land and sea (Is. 60:6, 60:9), and even perhaps by air (Is. 60:8)
  • Justice and peace (Is. 60:17-18, 61:8, 66:16)
  • Social services (Is. 61:1-4)
  • Food and drink (Is. 65:13)
  • Health and long life (Is. 65:20)
  • Construction and housing (Is. 65:21)
  • Prosperity and wealth (Is. 66:12)

All these things have eluded Israel in their faithlessness to God. Indeed, the harder they tried to achieve them, the less the cared to worship God or follow his ways. The result was to lack them even more. But when the book of Isaiah presents Israel’s future hope as the New Creation, all the preceding promises in the book come to the fore. The picture portrayed is that of a future eschatological or final day when the “righteous offspring of the servant” will enjoy all the blessings of the messianic age depicted earlier. Then people will actually receive the things they work for because “they shall not labor in vain” (Is. 65:23). Israel’s sorrow will be turned into joy, and one of the dominant motifs of this coming joy is the enjoyment of the work of their own hands.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

Faith and patience

Is 64:1-4 We see two key elements in this passage that are essential to recovery: faith and patience. The people of Israel looked at their awesome, powerful, incomparable God. This increased their faith. Then they patiently waited for him to bring about their deliverance. Such matters do not happen instantly or according to our timetable. If we persevere in doing our part, God will bring us victory in due time. If we are faithful and trust God, we will achieve our goal of recovery.

Is 64:5 Isaiah admitted that he and his people were all sinners, and he asked how they could be saved. The answer includes the first two steps of recovery: admitting they were powerless, that life was unmanageable, and that only God could restore them. Of course we must go further than this if we are to recover. We need to give our life to God and let him work in us. He can and will deliver us from our dependency.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

BIBLE STUDY

IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

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We are the clay, and you our potter

We are the clay, and you our potter

Just as fathers and mothers love their children, artists also feel a deep affection for their art. When an artist fashions a piece of art, something of the artist is bound up in that art. Part of that has to do with the deep involvement of the artist in the creative process. Part of it is pride of workmanship. Part of it is that the work of art reflects the artists understanding of how the piece should look or sound or feel. The artist and the art are inextricably bound together.

There is an interesting phenomenon at work here. An artist might feel that his/her art is imperfect. He/she might even be reluctant to display his/her art, because the inadequacy of the art would reveal the inadequacy of the artist. However, the same artist who would be frustrated with the imperfection of his/her art would quickly bristle at a critic who would make negative comments about the art. The artist’s intolerance of his/her art is nothing compared with his/her intolerance of the art critic. That is because the artist and the art are inextricably bound together.

This prayer uses that connection of art and artist in an attempt to persuade God to forgive Israel—to redeem Israel—to save Israel. The one offering the prayer has called God a Father. Now he reminds God of the creativity that God has expended in fashioning the nation Israel—God’s people—God’s artwork. Israel might have sinned, and be as disgusting as a soiled menstrual cloth, but God should not/cannot abandon Israel, because artist and art are inextricably bound together.

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

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commentary

God our redeemer

FIRST READING—The First Reading is from the book of the prophet Isaiah.  Our passage is a prayer of repentance offered by the covenant people in a time of great distress.  They call upon God to return to them as proof that His divine Presence is still with them in the same visual expression of His awesome glory that their ancestors witnessed at Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:16-20).

Exploring the Text

A plea for God's visitation

The new Church year begins with a plea for God’s visitation: 17b Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.  […] 19b Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you.

This heart-rending lament of the covenant people of Israel calls for the visible return of God in the same way that He appeared to them in the Theophany at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:16-19).  The people are looking for proof that God has not abandoned them.  They acknowledge that their sins have caused a breach in their relationship with Him, but they remind God that He is still their divine Father, and they are the children He created, as individuals and as the covenant nation He formed at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:5-8; 24:1-11).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Eternal blessings enjoyed

Christian tradition interprets these verses as a petition fulfilled in the First Advent of Jesus, the Messiah.  St. Paul quotes from this same passage in Isaiah when writing about the wisdom of God, His faithful covenant love for those who love Him, and the blessings He plans for His people.  Quoting Isaiah 64:3, Paul writes: But as it is written: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,” this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit scrutinized everything, even the depth of God (1 Cor 2:9-10).

Since we will not receive these extraordinary gifts fully until the next life, the Christ Fathers and other Christian commentators cite this verse when referring to the eternal blessings enjoyed by the fully redeemed in the heavenly beatitude.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): CREDIT: Bishop Robert Barron  (November 30, 2008 Podcast)
RELATED:  Our first reading for this first Sunday of Advent gives us the master image of God as the potter and we, his creatures, as clay. St. Irenaeus said that God’s provident direction of our lives is easy as long as the clay of our hearts remains supple and moist. Trouble comes only when we allow the clay to harden.

Responsorial Psalm

1B Advent

commentary
CREDIT:  Pope Francis attends Vesper Prayer Service at St. Paul Basilica on January 25, 2015 in Rome, Italy. See a similar photo by Franco Origlia at Getty Images
RELATED: The phrase “enthroned between the cherubim” (Is 37:16), in fact, was a name for God, whose earthly seat in the Jerusalem Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, guarded on each side by cherubim. The seat, then, was an image of God’s own authority, and, importantly, the authority he deputed to humanity to administer in his name. (That Other “Seat of Wisdom”—The Role of the Celebrant’s Chair in the Life of the Church by Denis R. McNamara | Adoremus)

"O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power, and come to save us." — Ps 80:2-3

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PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved

These verses connect well with the First Reading. The author pleads with God to come and help his hurting people.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

FOCAL THEMES

PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

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Life Recovery Bible

Bringing hope to others

Ps 80:14-19 When we are beaten down, we must plead for God’s mercy and his restorative work in our life. Even though we feel overwhelmed by our suffering, we should remember that God can end all that caused us so much pain. As he strengthens and restores us to wholeness, he wants us to share the good news about deliverance with others. As we share the message of God’s deliverance, others will begin to hope in God’s power, and we will be strengthened as well by the hope we bring to others.

SOURCE: Content taken from Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

BIBLE STUDY

PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

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commentary and homily help

Come O Lord to save us

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—The Responsorial Psalm takes up this same theme as the psalmist yearns for “our Father” and “the Redeemer” who is the “Shepherd” of His chosen “vine,” Israel, and “whose face we long to see.”

Exploring the Text

The petition for Yahweh to come in a visible form

The Responsorial Psalm repeats the petition in the First Reading by asking for a visible sign of God’s presence among His people.  It is a plea to Yahweh, the divine “Shepherd” of Israel, who dwells invisibly among His people, enthroned between the cherubim on the Mercy-seat of the Ark of the Covenant in the Jerusalem Temple’s Holy of Holies (Ex 25:10-11, 18-22).

The petition is for Yahweh to come in a visible form as He did at Mt. Sinai and for Him to restore His desolate people.

In verses 15-16, they call for God to revive Israel, His chosen “vine” of the “son of man” (literally the shoot = human beings) that He called out of Egypt and “planted” in the Promised Land (see Hos 11:1).

In verses 15-19, the people ask God to remember “the vine”/Israel’s unique status as God’s “firstborn son” among the nations of the earth (Ex 4:22-23).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
New Covenant relationship images

The images of God “the Shepherd” and the covenant people as the cherished “vine” of God’s “vineyard” appear in the New Testament to describe God’s New Covenant relationship with humanity through God the Son, who came in a visible form to redeem His people.

  • Jesus describes Himself as the “Good Shepherd” who guides His flock and whose love is so great for them that He is willing to lay down His life for their sake (Jn 10:14-18).
  • Jesus also uses the image of the vineyard and the vine.  He identifies Himself as the “True Vine” from which life flows to the branches that are those who are the New Covenant people of God who will inherit the “Promised Land” of Heaven (Jn 15:1-8).
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus as the 'Son of Man'

Instead of using the Hebrew text, our translation uses the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament and the New Vulgate that translates verses 16 and 18 with the words “son of man,” referring to Israel as God’s chosen people and the instrument by which He manifests His power.

The term “son of man” refers to the sons of Adam or human beings.  It is also Jesus’ favorite title for Himself in the Gospels.  Jesus is the “Son of Man” who is both human and divine (see Daniel’s reference to a divine “Son of man” in Dan 7:13), and through whom God will visibly manifest Himself to call old Israel to spiritual restoration as the “new Israel” of a new covenant in the Age of the Messiah (Jer 31:31-34).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Jews of the 'New Israel'

Jesus’ disciples and Apostles of the Old Israel became His New Covenant emissaries to carry the Gospel message of salvation to all the “sons (and daughters) of humanity.  They were the first ministers of His universal Church.  When the Holy Spirit came to the Upper Room in Jerusalem on the annual Jewish feast of Pentecost to fill and indwell the 120 Jewish disciples praying in the Upper Room, He spiritually restored the Jews of the “new Israel” (Acts 1:15; 2:1-4; CCC 877).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): CREDIT:  Pope Francis attends Vesper Prayer Service at St. Paul Basilica on January 25, 2015 in Rome, Italy. See a similar photo by Franco Origlia at Getty Images
RELATED: The phrase “enthroned between the cherubim” (Is 37:16), in fact, was a name for God, whose earthly seat in the Jerusalem Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, guarded on each side by cherubim. The seat, then, was an image of God’s own authority, and, importantly, the authority he deputed to humanity to administer in his name. (That Other “Seat of Wisdom”—The Role of the Celebrant’s Chair in the Life of the Church by Denis R. McNamara | Adoremus)

Second Reading

1B Advent

commentary
CREDIT:  Monsignor Edward Puleo presents holy communion during held mass with people in attendance, and social distancing, at St. Brigid Church in Peapack , N.J. June, 14, 2020
RELATED: One of the reasons the Catholic church teaches that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sundays, is not because our Holy Mother Church wants to be strict and impose a lot of rules on us. It is so that, “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Without that continuous support that we receive during our worship of God and reception of the sacraments, we run a great risk of straying away from the faith. If you miss Mass once, it gets a little easier to miss it the next time, and so it goes, until you just don’t feel like going at all anymore. If a person persists in that state, it could jeopardize their eternal salvation, if death should catch them off guard. —from He will keep you firm to the end (A Catholic Moment) by Laura Kazlas

"He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. " — 1 Corinthians 1:8

1 COR 1:3-9

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He will strengthen you to the end.

  • Paul’s letter is addressed to the Corinthians, a people who have embraced Christianity with ardor.
  • They compete with one another for the most evident signs of the spirit.
  • Paul reminds the people that the most essential gift for their salvation is perseverance in faith.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

REFLECTIONS

1 COR 1:3-9

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

We are gifted by Christ as we await his coming

SECOND READING—Paul begins by greeting that community which he previously brought to the faith when he was among them. Now, there are problems which call for his authoritative intervention. But first, Paul has to remind them that they have been gifted by Christ. “All speech and all knowledge” refers to values which as Greeks they would have been proud to possess. But as Christians, they should rather be proud of faith, hope, and love! They will only be perfected in God’s wayswhen the Lord Jesus has returned. Now is the time to look forward to that return and to be ready, that is, sinless.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

Understanding Paul’s writing

SECOND READING—Paul’s letter writing was a very different activity from tweeting or texting. While it may have been electric in its power, it was much more serious than email. To understand the composition of his letters, we should remember his historical context. Not everyone had the ability to write or even to read. Paul, like other writers, generally had a scribe taking dictation from him and the polish of his phrases and thoughts suggest that what he put in writing had been through a long process of thought and preaching before it was commended to parchment. Unlike our omnipresent paper, the parchment he used was expensive, as was the ink made from a combination of carbon, water and gum arabic, which is also a sweetener — this adding to the sense of the word of God being like honey.

Writing was serious business. What Paul put in his letters had surely already been tried out in preaching and discussions. His expressions had been honed through repetition until they were ready to commit to writing. Thus, while his ideas may not have been new to his readers, writing things down reminded the communities of what they had heard from him and preserved a permanent record of his advice, preaching and admonitions.

Paul gave such care to his writing that every word had been carefully chosen, and the salutation of a letter was as much a theological statement as it was an address. When Paul opened his letter to the Corinthians saying, “Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” he gave us words we frequently use in the liturgy and to which we not may have given great consideration.

Paul’s greeting “Grace,” (charis) imitated and transformed the normal letter salutation, “Hail” (chairein). It implied: “This is an unusual letter and it has theological importance.” For Paul, grace was synonymous with God’s gift of salvation. Peace was the result of that gift. In a world in which the emperor claimed to be the people’s savior and the bringer of peace, Paul’s greeting was subversive. He proclaimed that humanity could know the fullness of life only through a loving relationship with God. By starting his letter this way Paul summed up everything he wanted to tell the community. The rest of the letter simply filled out the details.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Waiting for Christ’s second coming

SECOND READING—After the usual greeting, Paul gives thanks to God for the way he has blessed this church family with many gifts. As they wait for Christ’s second coming, Paul feels confident that God will keep them steadfast in bearing witness to him.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

LECTOR TIPS

1 COR 1:3-9

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Paul J. Schlachter

The apostle repeats the name of the Lord Jesus Christ five times.  How can I say it so that each saying will sound deliberate, and not like the sloganeering of an inexperienced public speaker?

This is the same community that was not lacking in any spiritual gift.  And the apostle is glad for such abundance: I give thanks to my God always.  But they need reminding that underlying their gifts is the call to fellowship with God’s Son.  All that we share with each other, every spiritual gift, every act of generosity toward our neighbor, get their meaning from him.

You wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Indeed, the whole world will find its meaning on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This appearance, and our transformation, is the theme of Advent itself, repeated here in various ways.  The grace of God bestowed on you in Christ JesusHe will keep you firm to the endGod is faithful; by him you were called to fellowship with his Son.

The message for our assembly: Christ belongs not just in the center of the Christmas celebration, but in the center of all seasons.  We cannot let ourselves be distracted by the coming orgy of gift-giving (to ourselves and others), or by the countless parties and receptions that begin right now, when we should be reserving for Christ the place of honor that gives purpose to everything we do.

Central theme: Christ is the beginning and end of our lives.

I will challenge myself: To pronounce with warmth and freshness today the apostle’s ancient words of assurance to a church that he deeply loves.

READ MORE by Paul at Lector Works
Greg Warnusz

INTRODUCTION FOR LISTENERS:

Corinth was a young, somewhat wild Christian community anxious about the imminent return of Christ to bring history to an end. Saint Paul reassures them by reminding them of the gifts that the Spirit of God has already given them. They’re ready, and God will keep them so.

ORAL INTERPRETATION:

Today’s second reading comes from an early letter of Saint Paul, written while he and his audience were sure that Christ’s second coming was just around the corner.

To bring this out, when you read it, emphasize the phrases that appear here in bold print: “…Likewise, the witness I bore to Christ has been so confirmed among you that you lack no spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

READ MORE by Greg at LectorPrep.org

FOCAL THEMES

1 COR 1:3-9

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Theology of Work Commentary

Spiritual resources available

SECOND READING—Paul expresses his thanks that the Corinthian believers have experienced the grace of God in Christ. This is more than some vague piety. Rather, Paul has something quite specific in mind. The believers in Corinth have been “enriched in [Christ]” (1 Cor. 1:5) so that they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7). Paul specifically names two gifts, speech and knowledge, that the Corinthian church enjoyed in abundance.

For our purposes, it is especially important to note that Paul is con­vinced that the believers in Corinth have received the spiritual resources they need to fulfill their calling. God has called them, and he has given them gifts that will enable them to be “blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:8). Although the day of perfection has not arrived yet, whether at work or anywhere else, Christians already have access to the gifts that will come to complete fruition on that day.

It is hard to imagine that all Corinthian Christians felt as if their work was a special occupation designed individually for them by God. Most of them were slaves or common laborers, as we will see. What Paul must mean is that whether or not each person’s occupation seems special, God gives the gifts needed to make everyone’s work contribute to God’s plan for the world. No matter how insignificant our work seems, no matter how much we long to have a different job, the work we do now is important to God.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

Life Recovery Bible

Confronting others about their failures

1 Cor 1:4-9 Although there were problems among the Corinthian believers, Paul began his letter to them on a positive note. He understood that confronting others about their failures is more effective when we approach them diplomatically. We need to gain a hearing by recognizing the good things in the lives of those we need to confront. In this way, we show that we are concerned about them and value them as people. Our intervention will be effective only when we first show that we love the people we want to help.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

BIBLE STUDY

1 COR 1:3-9

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I always thank my God concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus (v. 4)

“I always thank my God concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus“

I once attended a funeral where the preacher spoke in glowing terms about a man whose life had been less than glowing. After the funeral, someone asked me, “Who was she talking about?”

We might ask the same of Paul here. Who is he talking about? Is he talking about the Corinthian church that has suffered because of its many divisions (1 Cor 1:10-17)? Is he talking about Christians who have either engaged in or turned a blind eye to sexual immorality in the church (1 Cor 5:1-13)? Is he talking about believers who have turned to civil courts to air their grievances against one another (1 Cor 6:1-11)? Is he talking about Christians who have observed the Lord’s supper with the rich having plenty to eat and the poor having nothing—with some people actually getting drunk (1 Cor 11:17-22)?

Some scholars believe that Paul is being sarcastic here. If so, his intent would be to shame these Corinthian Christians—to remind them how far they have fallen short of the life to which God has called them. Other scholars, however, see this as honest thanksgiving on Paul’s part for the Corinthian Christians and the grace that they have received. I believe the latter camp to be correct:

  • Paul is a very direct person (as he will soon demonstrate in this letter), and doesn’t need sarcasm to shame people.
  • He understands that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that we are “justified freely by his grace” (Romans 3:24)—so he can appreciate the faith even of Christians who are falling short of the Christian ideal.
  • He has experienced personally the inner conflict that causes good people to do bad things, and understands that God’s grace is his only hope (Romans 7:14-25).
  • He doesn’t deny that these Corinthians are Christians. If they are Christians, they have received God’s grace, and it would be appropriate for Paul to be thankful for that.
  • He doesn’t congratulate them for what they have done, but gives thanks for what they have received. In doing so, he moves the focus from what they have done to what God has done for them.
Exegesis Outline

Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7

  • PAUL, CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST
  • I ALWAYS THANK MY GOD CONCERNING YOU
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Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

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commentary

Fellowship with Christ while waiting for his return

SECOND READING—The Second Reading, like each of our readings, takes up the theme of being vigilant as we await the Second Advent of our Lord, so Jesus will find His people remaining faithful in doing good and not evil upon His return. St. Paul reminds us that God is with His people throughout their generations. In the New Covenant, He calls us to fellowship with Him through God the Son and gives every spiritual gift we need to sustain us while we wait for Christ’s glorious Second Advent.

Exploring the Text

Paul's prayer for a blessing of 'peace'

1 Cor 1:3 is St. Paul’s greeting in his letter to the Christian community at Corinth.

St. Augustine wrote that the peace Paul writes about is the peace of the soul that originates in friendship with God which grace brings with it and is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Augustine, De verb. Dom. Serm., 58; also see Gal 5:22-23).

Paul’s prayer for a blessing of “peace” isn’t an earthly concept of peace, meaning the absence of conflict.  It is a divine, spiritual peace and a gift of God “that surpasses all understanding” and “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Divine call and election

In 1 Cor 1:4-9, Paul gives thanks to God for the community.  Then he reminds them that they owe their election among the blessed to God who chose them through a divine call.  Like all Christians, they received God’s grace in Christ Jesus that has enriched them in every way.  The gift of grace through Christ Jesus gives them a share in God’s divine nature (see 2 Pt 1:4) and raises them to a new level of privileged existence only shared by those redeemed in the blood of Jesus.

Through a spiritual re-birth in Christian baptism (Jn 3:3-5), this transfigured nature enables Christians to share in the perfection of God’s inner life.  Our new life in Christian Baptism is the introduction to a privileged state that will be fulfilled at the end of life on earth when the lives of those who die in a state of grace become joined to the life of the Most Holy Trinity in the heavenly paradise.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): CREDIT:  Monsignor Edward Puleo presents holy communion during held mass with people in attendance, and social distancing, at St. Brigid Church in Peapack , N.J. June, 14, 2020
RELATED: One of the reasons the Catholic church teaches that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sundays, is not because our Holy Mother Church wants to be strict and impose a lot of rules on us. It is so that, “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Without that continuous support that we receive during our worship of God and reception of the sacraments, we run a great risk of straying away from the faith. If you miss Mass once, it gets a little easier to miss it the next time, and so it goes, until you just don’t feel like going at all anymore. If a person persists in that state, it could jeopardize their eternal salvation, if death should catch them off guard. —from He will keep you firm to the end (A Catholic Moment) by Laura Kazlas

Gospel Reading

1B Advent

commentary
CREDIT:  Many websites have used this photo over the years for the first week of Advent. (cf. TinEye's reverse image search)
RELATED: Visit LectioTube's Advent section for reflections, advent calendars, Art & Faith videos, season introduction videos, children videos and activities, songs, and prayers.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come." — Mark 13:33

MK 13:33-37

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Be constantly on guard!

  • The author of Mark’s Gospel wrote for a community greatly concerned with events of the end of time.
  • Today’s passage repeats two ideas. First, no one but God knows the time of the end. Second, the proper response of the faithful disciple is to watch and be ready at all times.
  • Only those who persevere in watching will be saved.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

REFLECTIONS

MK 13:33-37

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

We need to be alert to the coming of the Lord

GOSPEL—We begin the Church’s calendar year with a reading taken from the latter part of the Gospel, just before the passion narrative in Mark. The concern is with the end-time. Jesus asks the disciples (us, the Church) to be watchful, that is faithful, since all this will take place when he comes to pass judgment on those who are unaware, asleep, that is, when they least expect it. “Watch in faithfulness!” The Church community wants to be reminded that the Second Coming is proclaimed even in the memorial of the Lord’s first coming. The season of Advent alerts us not only to the fact that Christmas is fast approaching but that the judgment is coming speedily also. The Gospel according to Mark was the first of the four Gospels to be written. It is the shortest, containing only 16 chapters. There is no infancy narrative in this Gospel. Jesus is introduced at the beginning of his public ministry. Mark alone has a title at the beginning: “the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ, Son of God.” Throughout.there is a sense of urgency about themessage. We see this in the frequent use of the word immediately. God’s time is now complete; God is among us. We need to change our ways; This is the truth; this is “good news.”In Mark, the focus is on Jesus the Christ and on the disciples. The followers of Jesus do not come off with much honor in this Gospel. They are portrayed as slow-witted, failing to understand the message, always seeking advantages for themselves, denying the need for suffering and dying, etc. Peter is the disciple among disciples! He is quick and impetuous, and he is always wrong!

The message of Mark, of course, is for the Church of his dayand for the Church of today. The disciples of Jesus are no different today than were his original group! The Church holds up a mirror to its own face this year during the proclamations from the Gospel according to Mark. It needs to take a lesson from the teachings of Jesus and from the responses of the first disciples.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

God’s ongoing advent into our lives

GOSPEL— “You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.” Is Jesus making a promise or giving us a warning?

Jesus spoke about the master’s return after telling his disciples to remain watchful and alert. The master left servants in charge of his affairs, giving each of them their own work and assigning one to be the vigilant gatekeeper. Ironically, while the master expected everyone to do their jobs, the times at which he suggested that the master might return were non-working hours: dinner, midnight, pre-dawn and early morning. Then again, the times he mentioned were the precise hours when important events of the passion took place. The evening was the time of the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples. It was night when Jesus prayed and the disciples slept until his arrest. Cockcrow was most famously the time of Peter’s test of faithfulness. The early morning was the time of the meeting of the council that handed Jesus over; two days later, early morning was the time of the women’s journey to the empty tomb. Each of these hours represents a crucial moment in the disciples’ relationship with Jesus.

In Jesus’ own life, each of these moments was revelatory. Each of them focused his ministry and the meaning of his life. In the evening, he revealed himself as the one given for his disciples; at night he exposed his frail humanity and need for solidarity; at cockcrow he was misjudged and mistreated by people in authority and betrayed by his own. Finally, presenting both his trial and the discovery of his resurrection as events that happened in the early morning, the Gospel hints at the immense disparity between the human and divine verdicts on Jesus. Evening, midnight, cockcrow and morning were key moments for understanding who Jesus was and how he hoped his disciples would respond to him.

As we begin Advent, the Gospel calls us to be alert and watchful. When Jesus told the disciples that they needed to be as aware in their time off as during their working hours, he let them know that serious discipleship will refocus their entire life. Disciples who want to be ready for the master, who want to notice the signs of God’s presence in the world need to imitate parents who cultivate an ongoing awareness of their little ones. Parents and those who care for the frail and elderly don’t have to dote unceasingly on the person they are caring for, but they have to keep one ear constantly attuned for any call that demands a response.

In this season so full of glitzy distractions, the Gospel reminds us that God’s ongoing advent into our lives is not bound to a calendar or even to a liturgical schedule. There’s no predicting the moment when God will show up in our lives. We never know at what moment the Master will be seeking our faithful response.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Always be ready

GOSPEL—As stated above, the early Christians expected Jesus’ return during their lifetime. In these verses, Mark is encouraging his readers to do two things: a) to be watchful or vigilant for the Lord’s coming b) to be good and faithful disciples. For us, living in between Jesus’ first coming and second coming, we should be alert for the Lord’s comings into our daily lives and we should be found faithfully fulfilling our responsibilities and always ready and willing to witness to Jesus and his values.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

PROCLAMATION TIPS

MK 13:33-37

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Paul J. Schlachter

Be watchful!  Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  I say to all: Watch!  These are insistent, sobering words from Jesus today.  He should know about sudden events, since his words come just before the narration of his Passion and Death.

Everyone in our congregation has learned the importance of vigilance in our modern world.  We keep a close eye on our wealth and property.  We especially take precautions for our personal safety in a city that, as the media love to remind us, is filled with danger.

And we are fully aware that we know so little about the secret designs of others.  That is why it will not be hard to confirm today the words of Jesus: You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.  Not that God’s designs are secret!  God just takes longer to speak the final decisive word.

I will evoke this sense of vigilance in my listeners, as I say the words The time will come.  The suspense will mount in my voice as I count down the time: in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow or in the morning.

Central theme: Vigilance is the touchstone of Advent.

Message for our assembly: We must be ready for Jesus’ return, readier than we are for any worldly goals, readier than we are to shop for Christmas, truly poor in spirit.

I will challenge myself: To take a cue from the stubborn insistence that our president and vice-president use in their speeches, outdoing their worldly zeal as I repeat the admonishing words of Jesus to the assembly.

Word to Eucharist: Let us remind ourselves that our union around the table today is a foretaste of the union still to come.

READ MORE by Paul at Lector Works

FOCAL THEMES

MK 13:33-37

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Theology of Work Commentary

Cycle B Gospel readings are from Mark

GOSPEL—The Gospel of Mark, like the other Gospels, is about the work of Jesus. His work is to teach, to heal, to perform signs of God’s power, and most of all to die and be raised to life for the benefit of humanity. Christ’s work is absolutely unique. Yet it is also a seamless part of the work of all God’s people, which is to cooperate with God in restoring the world to the way God intended it from the beginning. Our work is not Christ’s work, but our work has the same end as his. Therefore the Gospel of Mark is not about our work, but it informs our work and defines the ultimate goal of our work.

By studying Mark, we discover God’s call to work in the service of his kingdom. We discern the rhythms of work, rest, and worship God intends for our lives. We see the opportunities and dangers inherent in earning a living, accumulating wealth, gaining status, paying taxes, and working in a society that does not necessarily aim toward God’s purposes. We meet fishermen, labourers, mothers and fathers (parenting is a type of work!), tax collectors, people with disabilities that affect their work, leaders, farmers, lawyers, priests, builders, philanthropists (mostly women), a very rich man, merchants, bankers, soldiers, and governors. We recognize the same bewildering range of personalities we encounter in life and work today. We encounter people not as isolated individuals, but as members of families, communities, and nations. Work and workers are everywhere in the Gospel of Mark.

As with the other Gospels, Mark is set against a background of turbulent economic times. During the Roman era, Galilee was undergoing major social upheaval, with land increasingly owned by a wealthy few — often foreigners — and with a general movement away from small-scale farming to larger-scale, estate-based agriculture. Those who had once been tenant farmers or even landowners were forced to become day labourers, often as a result of having lost their own property through the foreclosure of loans taken to pay Roman taxes.[1] Set against such a background, it is small wonder that economic and fiscal themes emerge in Mark’s narrative and in the teaching of Jesus, and an awareness of this social context allows us to appreciate undercurrents in these that we might otherwise have overlooked.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

Uncertainty about the timing and difficulties in recovery

Mk 13:21-37 Jesus did not reveal when the end would come, but this should motivate us to remain alert and watchful from now until the end. As we are unsure of the future of our world, we are also uncertain about the timing and difficulties we will face in recovery. We are never completely recovered; we are always in recovery. We will experience total victory only after Jesus has returned to make us into new people. Preparation for his return must be made one day at a time. We cannot calculate the day of his return and plan to change just before he comes. Our daily preparation and actions are important keys to our spiritual health and recovery.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

BIBLE STUDY

MK 13:33-37

What I tell you, I tell all: Watch (v. 37)

“What I tell you, I tell all: Watch“

This is the point of the parable––that Jesus’ disciples must“keep awake” to be prepared for the coming of the Son of Man. Keeping awake, of course, cannot mean that we must suffer chronic insomnia. Keeping awake has to do with spiritual wakefulness––spiritual preparation––spiritual readiness for Christ’s coming again.

But what constitutes wakefulness? What constitutes readiness? What do we need to be doing when the Master comes so that he will be pleased with us? This Gospel offers the following answers. It quotes Jesus as saying:

  • “For whoever does the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35)––so we would do well to try to do God’s will.
  • When Jesus’ disciples argued about which one was greatest, Jesus said: “If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35b)––so we would do well to adopt the posture of a servant.
  • Then Jesus took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them,“Whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, doesn’t receive me, but him who sent me” (Mark 9:37)––so we would do well to welcome children (and others who are in need of care and supervision).
  • When Jesus’ disciples complained about an exorcist who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, Jesus replied: “For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward” (Mark 9:41)––so we would do well to help those in need––and to do so in Christ’s name (see also Matthew 25:31-46).
  • After Jesus’ disciples tried to stop parents from bringing their children to Jesus, he said: “Allow the little children to come to me! Don’t forbid them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Most certainly I tell you, whoever will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it” (Mark 10:14b-15)––so we would do well to recover some of the readiness to believe and the sense of wonder that we enjoyed as children.
  • After James and John request the places of honor in Jesus’ kingdom, Jesus replied: “Whoever of you wants to become first among you, shall be bondservant of all” (Mark 10:44)––this repeats the emphasis on servanthood that we found in 9:35b above).
  • Jesus said, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions” (Mark 11:25)––so we would do well to practice forgiveness.
  • When the widow put her last two coins in the temple treasury, Jesus said: “Most certainly I tell you, this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury, for they all gave out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on”(Mark 12:43-44)––so we would do well to give recklessly to God.
  • After the resurrection, Jesus said (in the longer ending of this Gospel): “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16)––so we would do well to believe and be baptized.
Copyright 2014, Richard Niell Donovan
Exegesis Outline

Mark 13:24-37

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commentary

Be alert and watch for the coming of the master!

GOSPEL—In the Gospel Reading, Jesus tells another parable about the necessity of His disciples remaining vigilant in waiting for His promised return. He warns them to be watchful and alert because they do not know when Jesus, the Master of His “house” the Church, will return to judge the actions of His servants.

Exploring the Text

Jesus speaks of His return in glory

In this short parable, Jesus appears to speak of His return in glory.  However, He might also be referring to the violent end of the old Sinai Covenant and the judgment on the people and Jerusalem because they rejected their divine Messiah (Lk 19:44).

Referring to the judgment against Jerusalem and the Old Covenant hierarchy, Jesus said: “For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.  They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Lk 19:43-44).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Symbolism of Jesus' parable

Jesus tells a parable in which He is the man who leaves on a journey (His Ascension into Heaven) and places His servants (the Apostles and disciples and those of future generations) in charge of His “house” (the Church).  The gatekeeper whose duty is to be “on the watch” (verse 34) refers to the chief steward of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, St. Peter and his successors.

Jesus names the four night-watches observed during the period of the Roman occupation of Judea: 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. The Four Night-Watches in the first century AD:

  1. Evening Watch from sundown (c. 6 PM) to 9 PM
  2. Midnight Watch from 9 PM to midnight
  3. Cockcrow Watch from midnight to 3 AM (the trumpet that signaled the end of the third Watch at 3 AM was called the “cockcrow”)
  4. Dawn Watch from 3 AM to dawn (c. 6 AM)

A trumpet blast announced the change from one Watch to the next.  The night watchmen who blew trumpets at the end of each Watch were in the Jewish Levitical guard at the Temple and also the Roman Watch in the Antonia Fortress.  You may remember that Jesus warned Peter that he would deny Jesus at “cockcrow.”  After Peter denied Jesus, he heard “cockcrow,” the 3 AM trumpet (see Mt 26:34; 26:69-75).  St. Mark’s Gospel mentions two cockcrow signals, probably referring to the one at the Temple and the second at the Roman fortress (Mk 14:29-30; 71-72).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Age of the New Covenant Kingdom

The same sequence of events foretelling the destruction of the Temple, the end of the Sinai Covenant, and the return of Jesus in the Second Advent occurs in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels.

Jesus’ point may also be that the end of the Old Covenant, finalized in the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of Old Covenant Temple worship and sacrifices in AD 70, signals the beginning of a new and final age in the rule of Christ’s Kingdom of the Church. The Age of the New Covenant Kingdom of the Universal Church is the last age of humanity, and it will last until Jesus’ Second Advent, followed by the Final Judgment of the nations.

In this passage, the keywords for all generations are Jesus’ commands to “Be watchful! Be alert” (Mk 13:33). He warns us to be ready for His Parousia (appearing), so He will find us diligent in doing the good works of faithful servants who belong to His “House” that is the Kingdom of the Church.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): CREDIT:  Many websites have used this photo over the years for the first week of Advent. (cf. TinEye's reverse image search)
RELATED: Visit LectioTube's Advent section for reflections, advent calendars, Art & Faith videos, season introduction videos, children videos and activities, songs, and prayers.

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Catena Aurea

1B Advent

St. Theophylact of Ochrid

MK 13:33-37

The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

CHURCH FATHERS

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

CHURCH FATHERS

MK 13:33-37
TOGGLE BIBLE VERSES

32. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

33. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36. Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

THEOPHYLACT. The Lord wishing to prevent His disciples from asking about that day and hour, says, But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. For if He had said, I know, but I will not reveal it to you, He would have saddened them not a little; but He acted more wisely, and prevents their asking such a question, lest they should importune Him, by saying, neither the Angels nor I.

HILARY. (de Trin. ix) This ignorance of the day and hour is urged against the Only-Begotten God, as if, God born of God had not the same perfection of nature as God. But first, let common sense decide whether it is credible that He, who is the cause that all things are, and are to be, should be ignorant of any out of all these things.

For how can it be beyond the knowledge of that nature, by which and in which that which is to be done is contained? And can He be ignorant of that day, which is the day of His own Advent? Human substances foreknow as far as they can what they intend to do, and the knowledge of what is to be done, follows upon the will to act. How then can the Lord of glory, from ignorance of the day of His coming, be believed to be of that imperfect nature, which has on it a necessity of coming, and has not attained to the knowledge of its own advent?

But again, how much more room for blasphemy will there be, if a feeling of envy is ascribed to God the Father, in that He has withheld the knowledge of His beatitude from Him to whom He gave a foreknowledge of His death. But if there are in Him all the treasures of knowledge, He is not ignorant of this day; rather we ought to remember that the treasures of wisdom in Him are hidden; His ignorance therefore must be connected with the hiding of the treasures of wisdom, which are in Him. (Col. 2:3) For in all cases, in which God declares Himself ignorant, He is not under the power of ignorance, but either it is not a fit time for speaking, or it is an economy of not acting.

But if God is said then to have known that Abraham loved Him, when He did not hide that His knowledge from Abraham, it follows, that the Father is said to know the day, because He did not hide it from the Son. (Gen. 22:12) If therefore the Son knew not the day, it is a Sacrament of His being silent, as on the contrary the Father alone is said to know, because He is not silent. But God forbid that any new and bodily changes should be ascribed to the Father or the Son. Lastly, lest He should be said to be ignorant from weakness, He has immediately added, Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For we must needs watch with our souls before the death of the body.

THEOPHYLACT. But He teaches us two things, watching and prayer; for many of us watch, but watch only to pass the night in wickedness; He now follows this up with a parable, saying, For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave his servants power over every work, and commanded the porter to watch.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The man who taking a far journey left his house is Christ, who ascending as a conqueror to His Father after the resurrection, left His Church, as to His bodily presence, but has never deprived her of the safeguard of His Divine presence.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Evan. 9) For the earth is properly the place for the flesh, which was as it were carried away to a far country, when it was placed by our Redeemer in the heavens. And he gave his servants power over every work, when, by giving to His faithful ones the grace of the Holy Ghost, He gave them the power of serving every good work. He has also ordered the porter to watch, because He commanded the order of pastors to have a care over the Church committed to them. Not only, however, those of us who rule over Churches, but all are required to watch the doors of their hearts, lest the evil suggestions of the devil enter into them, and lest our Lord find us sleeping. Wherefore concluding this parable He adds, Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For he who sleeps applies not his mind to real bodies, but to phantoms, and when he awakes, he possesses not what he had seen; so also are those, whom the love of this world seizes upon in this life; they quit after this life what they dreamed was real.

THEOPHYLACT. See again that He has not said, I know not when the time will be, but, Ye know not. For the reason why He concealed it was that it was better for us; for if, now that we know not the end, we are careless, what should we do if we knew it? We should keep on our wickednesses even unto the end. Let us therefore attend to His words; for the end comes at even, when a man dies in old age; at midnight, when he dies in the midst of his youth; and at cockcrow, when our reason is perfect within us; for when a child begins to live according to his reason, then the cock cries loud within him, rousing him from the sleep of sense; but the age of childhood is the morning. Now all these ages must look out for the end; for even a child must be watched, lest he die unbaptized.

PSEUDO-JEROME. He thus concludes His discourse, that the last should hear from those who come first this precept which is common to all; wherefore He adds, But what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

AUGUSTINE. (Epist. 199, 3) For He not only speaks to those in whose hearing He then spake, but even to all who came after them, before our time, and even to us, and to all after us, even to His last coming. But shall that day find all living, or will any man say that He speaks also to the dead, when He says, Watch, lest when he cometh he find you sleeping? Why then does He say to all, what only belongs to those who shall then be alive, if it be not that it belongs to all, as I have said? For that day comes to each man when his day comes for departing from this life such as he is to be, when judged in that day, and for this reason every Christian ought to watch, lest the Advent of the Lord find him unprepared; but that day shall find him unprepared, whom the last day of his life shall find unprepared.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.
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