Tuesday, September 22, 2009


“Madonna and Child with a Shepherd”
by Anton von Maron, 1750’s



Exodus 32:7-14

The LORD said to Moses,
"Go down at once to your people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
`This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'
I see how stiff necked this people is," continued the LORD to Moses.
"Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation."

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
"Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
`With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth'?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
`I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage."'
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.
Commentary on
Ex 32:7-14

“Yahweh informs Moses of the people's sin; these verses must originate from a source other than that of v.18, where Moses appears ignorant of what is happening in the camp. Yahweh has divorced himself from this sinful people, for he refers to them as "your people." He intends to destroy the wicked and form a new nation. Moses now assumes the role of mediator and appeals to God's honor for his own name before the pagan nations as a motive to prevent the destruction of his people. As a second motive, Moses recalls the promises accorded to Abraham. We note, however, the subsequent conflicting elements of the punishments invoked by Moses (
Exodus 32:20, 25-29) and the testimony of Yahweh (Exodus 32:34).”[ii]


Deuteronomy 10:8-9

Moses summoned all of Israel and said to them:
"At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi
to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD,
to be in attendance before the LORD and minister to him,
and to give blessings in his name,
as they have done to this day.
For this reason,
Levi has no share in the heritage with his brothers;
the LORD himself is his heritage,
as the LORD, your God, has told him."
Commentary on
Dt 10:8-9

This passage is a part of Moses’ discourse to the tribes, a renewal of the articles of the Covenant under which they are bound; to love and serve the Lord because he is above all that is. In this selection he singles out the tribe of Levi – from which the priests of Israel are derived. They are told that the Levites are set apart because they were not in existence at the time of the Aaronic Apostasy (
Exodus 32-34) and need not atone for that sin.


1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-13a

The LORD said to Samuel:
"Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons."

As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
"Surely the LORD'S anointed is here before him."
But the LORD said to Samuel:
"Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because he sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart."
Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel,
who said, "The LORD has not chosen him."
Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said,
"The LORD has not chosen this one either."
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
"The LORD has not chosen any one of these."
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
"Are these all the sons you have?" Jesse replied,
"There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep."
Samuel said to Jesse,
"Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here."
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
"There—anoint him, for this is he!"
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
Commentary on
1 Sam 16:1b, 6-13a

Samuel is deeply troubled over God’s decision to remove Saul as King of Israel. God sends him to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint the next king. After going through all of Jesse’s sons the Lord finally instructs Samuel to anoint the youngest, David, who is not present but tending the sheep. This anointing is the first of three David will receive. The other two will come after the death of Saul. Anointing in this context sets David apart for God and gives him a specific task to undertake for God.

CCC: 1 Sm 16:1 436; 1 Sm 16:12-13 436; 1 Sm 16:13 695

Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year King Uzziah died,
I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,
with the train of his garment filling the temple.
Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings:
with two they veiled their faces,
with two they veiled their feet,
and with two they hovered aloft.

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!"
they cried, one to the other.
"All the earth is filled with his glory!"
At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook
and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, "Woe is me, I am doomed!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
living among a people of unclean lips;
yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it and said,
"See, now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed, your sin purged."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
"Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?"
"Here I am," I said; "send me!"
Commentary on
Is 6:1-8

The Prophet Isaiah tells us the story of his call, “In the year King Uzziah died” (742 BC). The prophet first relates his belief that he will die, since it was the common belief that one who had not been purified could not see the face of God and live. This selection from Isaiah (an introduction to the “Book of Emmanuel”) describes the prophet’s first vision of his encounter with God. It is set in the Temple in Jerusalem, probably on a high holy day. The six winged “Seraphim” (literally “the burning ones”) are images common in art of the ancient Near East, and represent angelic messengers. “Each has six wings. Reverence for the divine majesty causes them to veil their faces with two wings; modesty, to veil their extremities in similar fashion; alacrity in God's service, to extend two wings in preparation for flight.”[3] One of these seraphim flew to him with a coal from the fire at the altar (there would have been a fire for burning the holocaust – a sacrificial offering completely burnt as opposed to simply slaughtered).

With that coal, the seraphim touched Isaiah’s lips in symbolic cleansing, making the prophet worthy to proclaim God’s word. The Church remembers this event with the Priest’s blessing of himself or the Deacon with the words: “May the Lord open my (your) lips that I (you) may worthily proclaim the Holy Gospel.”

The reference to God in the prefix, “Holy, holy, holy,” describes the Father as perfect and omnipotent. (Note: in ancient Hebrew, there were no words "Holier" or "Holiest." In order to express that thought, it was necessary to repeat the phrase three times to express the ultimate state of perfection. This literary form is carried into the Roman Rite liturgy today.) We hear the prophet lament that he is “doomed,” since it was believed that such an encounter with God would be fatal (Genesis 32:31; Exodus 33:20; Judges 13:22).

This encounter with God is important in understanding Isaiah’s entire mission and purpose. (“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ’Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’”)
CCC: Is 6:1 1137; Is 6:2-3 1138; Is 6:3 2809; Is 6:5 208, 2584; Is 6:6 332; Is 6:8 2584
5. For Missionaries

Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
Announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
"Your God is King!"
Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
For they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
All the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.
Commentary on
Isaiah 52:7-10

At the time of its writing, the Prophet’s intent was to proclaim the joy of the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile to Judah. He sees the event as salvation for the Hebrew people. God leads them back to the land he gave their fathers.


“These verses form the famous poem of the ‘messenger of peace’ who ‘brings good tidings.’ The ideas of the first oracle of this second part of the book (40:1-11) are repeated here very beautifully. The messenger's feet are praised - a symbol of his speed and surefootedness when crossing the mountains, which is where important news comes from (cf. 40:9). His message (v. 7) is described very significantly as involving ‘peace,’ which in Isaiah means safety in Israel after the hardships of exile; ‘good tidings’ or, more literally, ‘news of goodness and well-being,’ that is, genuine material and spiritual prosperity; and "salvation", which is permanent renewal on all levels. The three words read together mean the highest degree of happiness imaginable. The core of this message is the enthronement of God: ‘Your God reigns,’ similar to 40:9: ‘Behold your God.’”[ix]


From a greater distance and depth of understanding, we see him announcing the coming of the Messiah and the salvation that comes to the New Jerusalem through Jesus Christ.


Isaiah 61:1-3a

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God,
to comfort all who mourn;
To place on those who mourn in Zion
a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.
Commentary on
Is 61:1-3a

The prophetic vision from Isaiah begins with words used by Jesus himself in
Luke 4: 18-19. In the day it was first used it was inspired by the return of faithful from the Babylonian exile. It envisions the coming of the messianic age, foreseeing the saving work of the Messiah (“…glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners”).

CCC: Is 61:1-2 714; Is 61:1 436, 695, 716, 1286

Jeremiah 1:4-9

The word of the LORD came to me thus:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

"Ah, Lord, GOD!" I said,
"I know not how to speak; I am too young.”

But the LORD answered me,

Say not, "I am too young."
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying,

See, I place my words in your mouth!
Commentary on
Jer 1:4-9

This is the beginning of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. It is clear that the author sees the call of the prophet from before his birth (see
Isaiah 49:1, 5; Luke 1:15; Gal 1:15, 16. I knew you: I loved you and chose you. I dedicated you: I set you apart to be a prophet.)

In spite of protesting that he was not yet of age (he was less than thirty years of age), God tells him that he (the Lord) will overcome all obstacles (“To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you”).

CCC: Jer 1:5 2270; Jer 1:6 2584

Ezekiel 3:17-21

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman
for the house of Israel.
When you hear a word from my mouth,
you shall warn them for me.

If I say to the wicked man,
You shall surely die;
and you do not warn him or speak out
to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live:
the wicked man shall die for his sin,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
If, on the other hand, you have warned the wicked man,
yet he has not turned away from his evil
nor from his wicked conduct,
then he shall die for his sin,
but you shall save your life.

If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong
when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die.
He shall die for his sin,
and his virtuous deeds shall not be remembered;
but I will hold you responsible for his death
if you did not warn him.
When, on the other hand, you have warned a virtuous man not to sin,
and he has in fact not sinned,
he shall surely live because of the warning,
and you shall save your own life.
Commentary on
Ez 3:17-21

This passage from Ezekiel is what is called the “Fourth Commission” of the Prophet (the fourth of five elements of the prophet’s call to the Lord’s service. In this fourth commission he is called to be the “Watchman” of the people. (Scholarly study of this passage proposes it was not originally placed in this place but is actually much later in the narrative and is actually a parallel to
Ezekiel 33:1-9.) The prophet is called to address the captives of Israel whom he is to keep faithful to Yahweh as they are confronted with the temptations of an affluent pagan society. This “watchman” role also finds parallels in Hosea 9:8; Isaiah2l:6ff.; 56:10,58:7; and Jeremiah 6:17. “In Ez, it embodies the principle of personal responsibility applied to the prophetic office.” [iii]


Ezekiel 34:11-16

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I will lead them out from among the peoples
and gather them from the foreign lands;
I will bring them back to their own country
and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel
in the land's ravines and all its inhabited places.
In good pastures will I pasture them,
and on the mountain heights of Israel
shall be their grazing ground.
There they shall lie down on good grazing ground,
and in rich pastures shall they be pastured
on the mountains of Israel.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.
Commentary on Ez 34:11-16

The prophet presents the allegory of God, the shepherd. In this oracle, the vision is God the Father, like a shepherd, will gather the people of Israel from the foreign lands to which they have been driven, and bring them back to the mountains of Israel.

"This beautiful oracle resounds in our Lord's parable of the Good Shepherd who takes care of his sheep (cf. John 10:1-21), in what he says about the Father's joy on finding the lost sheep (cf. Matthew 18: 12-14; Luke 15:4-7), and in things he has to say about the Last Judgment as reported by St Matthew (Matthew 25:31-46)." [viii]

CCC: Ez 34:11-31 754


1. For Missionaries

Acts 13:46-49

Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
"It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth. "

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.
Commentary on
Acts 13:46-49

This excerpt from St. Paul’s first missionary journey finds he and Barnabas in Antioch. They have attempted to present the Gospel to the Jews but are rejected. We note that Luke acknowledges that this word came first to the Hebrews, but since they have rejected it, the Gentiles inherit the salvation they were offered. The Gospel now is presented to the Gentiles who receive it with enthusiasm.

CCC: Acts 13:48 2640

Acts 20:17-18a, 28-32, 36

From Miletus Paul had the presbyters
of the Church at Ephesus summoned.
When they came to him, he addressed them,
"Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock
of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,
in which you tend the Church of God
that he acquired with his own Blood.
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you,
and they will not spare the flock.
And from your own group,
men will come forward perverting the truth
to draw the disciples away after them.
So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,
I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.
And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated."

When he had finished speaking
he knelt down and prayed with them all.
Commentary on
Acts 20:17-18a, 28-32, 36

The steady and lively growth of Christianity has started to spark significant resistance from multiple sources. St. Paul now feels compelled to return to Jerusalem but wants to make sure he has left a final message with the leaders in the region of Ephesus. Here he begins his discourse reminding them of his fidelity to the message he received from Jesus.

St. Paul is speaking to the presbyters that have been appointed over the various communities around Ephesus (a very large city at the time). Having explained that he is returning to Jerusalem, he does not believe he will see them again. Now the Apostle tells them to be on guard against false prophets and teachers and against members of their own communities who will spread dissension. He reminds them, finally, to keep focused on the Lord’s commands and to remain charitable.

CCC: Acts 20:32 798; Acts 20:36 2636
3. For Missionaries

Acts 26:19-23

Paul said:
"King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
On the contrary, first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem
and throughout the whole country of Judea,
and then to the Gentiles,
I preached the need to repent and turn to God,
and to do works giving evidence of repentance.
That is why the Jews seized me when I was in the temple
and tried to kill me.
But I have enjoyed God's help to this very day,
and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike,
saying nothing different from what the prophets and Moses foretold,
that the Christ must suffer and that,
as the first to rise from the dead,
he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles."
Commentary on
Acts 26:19-23

This chapter describes St Paul’s final defense before King Agrippa, having been handed over to him by the Sanhedrin. In this defense he portrays himself as a Pharisee of which, he claims, Christianity is a logical continuation. The Apostle contends that proclamation of Jesus, the Messiah is the source of the disagreement with the Jewish leadership. His contention that the proclamation of Jesus was in effect the fulfillment of the Law of Moses (see also
Luke 18:31)

CCC: Acts 26:22-23 601; Acts 27:23-25 334


Psalm 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

R. (see 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, "My Lord are you."
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Commentary on
Ps 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

Psalm 16 is an individual hymn of praise.  The psalmist prays that God will shield the faithful from harm and expresses confidence in the Lord’s salvation. The passage closes with praise for God’s loving mercy.  This selection is structured to support the Pauline ideal of placing God first in the life of the faithful. Their greatest possession is being loved by God and loving God in return.


Psalm 23:1-3a, 4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil;
for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Commentary on
Ps 23:1-3a, 4, 5, 6

Psalm 23 is probably the most quoted Psalm in Holy Scripture and perhaps one of the most commonly used of all the scripture. It is both a song of praise and a prayer in difficult times. The imagery of the Good Shepherd is also found in the exodus (see
Isaiah 40:11; 49:10; Jeremiah 31:10). It is used extensively in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (see Ezekiel 34:11-16; John 10:11-18).

The reference in the third strophe above “You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes” “occurs in an exodus context in
Psalm 78:19. As my enemies watch: my enemies see that I am God's friend and guest. Oil: a perfumed ointment made from olive oil, used especially at banquets (Psalm 104:15; Matthew 26:7; Luke 7:37, 46; John 12:2).” [iv]
CCC: Ps 23:5 1293

Psalm 40:2 and 4. 7-8a. 8b-9, 10

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, "Behold I come."
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

"In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!"
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Commentary on
Ps 40:2 and 4. 7-8a. 8b-9, 10

While Psalm 40 is a song of thanksgiving, it is also combined with a lament. The initial waiting is satisfied by favor shown by God to one who is faithful in service to Him. Praise and thanksgiving are given to God whose justice is applied to all.


Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations."
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong."
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
He shall say of me, 'You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior."'
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Commentary on
Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

Psalm 89, taken as a whole, is a communal lament. This selection rejoices in God’s establishment of the Davidic Dynasty and the promise of heavenly support for his kingdom.

CCC: Ps 89 709

Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b, 7-8a, 10

R. (3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Commentary on
Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b, 7-8a, 10

Announce his salvation, day after day.” This song of praise to the Lord invites all humanity to participate in God’s salvation. “This psalm has numerous verbal and thematic contacts with
Isaiah ch. 40-55, as does Psalm 98. Another version of the psalm is 1 Chronicles 16:23-33.”[v]


Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Commentary on
Ps 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

Psalm 106 is a national lament remembering the events from Exodus 32:7-14, where the Jews, brought out of Egypt by Moses, fell into idol worship, even as he received the Law on Mt. Horeb. The psalmist reminds the people that Moses interceded and turned away God’s wrath.

CCC: Ps 106:23 2577

Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The LORD said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
"Rule in the midst of your enemies."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

"Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor,
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
"You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Commentary on
Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4

We are given the reference point used in Hebrews 5:1-10. The psalmist, David, reflects upon the call to service of the people. The final verse specifically mentions the High Priest Melchizedek. Melchizedek was the ancient king of Salem (Jerusalem) who blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:18-20). Like other kings of the time, he also performed priestly functions.

Psalm 110 thanks God for earthly authority, recognizing that it is only through the Lord's strength that authority is exercised. The psalmist uses Melchizedek as an arch-example. He was a secular king in the time of Abraham who ruled on the spiritual side as well. Though he was not of the Hebrew race, he was nonetheless chosen by God to be priest, not of the line of Aaron. Since the ancient text refers neither to his lineage nor his death, his office is seen as eternal, “You are a priest forever.

CCC: Ps 110 447; Ps 110:1 659; Ps 110:4 1537

Psalm 117:1bc, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia.

For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia.
Commentary on
Ps 117:1bc, 2

This, “shortest” of all the Psalms, is a hymn of praise sung by the community to the Lord who is faithful to his people.



Romans 12:3-13

Brothers and sisters:
By the grace given to me I tell everyone among you
not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think,
but to think soberly,
each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned.
For as in one body we have many parts,
and all the parts do not have the same function,
so we, though many, are one Body in Christ
and individually parts of one another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,
let us exercise them:
if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;
if ministry, in ministering;
if one is a teacher, in teaching;
if one exhorts, in exhortation;
if one contributes, in generosity;
if one is over others, with diligence;
if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.
Commentary on
Rom 12:3-13

St. Paul speaks to a community that is one in faith in Christ. He tells the community that in their union the gifts of each must serve the needs of all and these gifts need to be exercised. The Evangelist uses the analogy of the “Body” (the Body of Christ) with each part of the body serving an important purpose though each different from the others. In the second part of the selection the Evangelist gives a litany of exhortations to live the love of Christ, following his command to love one another sincerely and to forgive those who persecute them.

CCC: Rom 12-15 1454, 1971; Rom 12:4 1142; Rom 12:5 1372; Rom 12:5 1372; Rom 12:6-8 2004; Rom 12:6 114; Rom 12:8 2039; Rom 12:9-13 1971; Rom 12:11 2039; Rom 12:12 1820
2. For Missionaries

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Brothers and sisters:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written:
I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I will set aside.

Where is the wise one?
Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God
the world did not come to know God through wisdom,
it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation
to save those who have faith.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Commentary on
1 Cor 1:18-25

St. Paul begins this selection refuting those who point to Christ’s crucifixion as proof of Jesus’ fallibility by saying that faith, graciously given by God allows the Christian to see the victory in what appears to the scoffers to be a defeat (“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”) St. Paul supports his premise by quoting
Isaiah 29:14 attacking the “wisdom of the wise”. He calls Jesus a stumbling block for the Jews (probably because they expected a Royal Messiah taking power like King David) and again foolishness for the rational gentiles (Greeks) who pride themselves in logic – the cross is not logical for a savior.

St. Paul concludes by telling the community “those who were called”, that it is God who acts in them giving them faith (see also
Romans 9:16) and that in the face of God’s omnipotence all the wisdom and strength of humanity pales in comparison.

CCC: 1 Cor 1:18 268; 1 Cor 1:24-25 272

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.
Therefore do not make any judgment
before the appointed time,
until the Lord comes,
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts,
and then everyone will receive praise from God.
Commentary on
1 Corinthians 4:1-5

This selection is part of St. Paul’s pre-oration regarding the need for unity in the church in Corinth. In this concluding section, the Apostle calls upon the community to be faithful to the teachings passed on to it. He speaks of Christian Wisdom with an exhortation to the community not to pass judgment on their leaders. He summarizes his thought with the statement: "Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." The words St. Paul uses to describe the roles are, in the first instance: “servants of Christ ,” hypēretēs, a word that designated rowers on the lowest rank of a galley, later coming to mean assistant or helper. The word “stewards” (or managers) was oikonomos, a name given to servants put in charge of their master’s property.

He goes on to exhort them not to pass judgment upon each other, rather to follow his own example of being non-judgmental, even about his own actions. He concludes by reminding them that, at the “appointed time” (referring to the eschaton), the Lord will reveal all motives of the human heart and judgment will be passed.

CCC: 1 Cor 4:1 859, 1117; 1 Cor 4:5 678

1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the Gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.
Commentary on
1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23

St. Paul continues to exhort the church at Corinth to follow his example. He begins this selection with a restatement of his own imperative call: to proclaim the Gospel is a “divine compulsion.” His reward for responding to that call is that he “too may have a share in it.” His clear message is that the Gospel he proclaims and the work he accomplishes should bring glory to Christ, not to himself.

CCC: 1 Cor 9:5-18 2122; 1 Cor 9:19 876; 1 Cor 9:22 24


2 Corinthians 3:1-6a

Brothers and sisters:
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?
Do we need, as some do,
letters of recommendation to you or from you?
You are our letter, written on our hearts,
known and read by all,
shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us,
written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
Not that of ourselves we are qualified
to take credit for anything as coming from us;
rather, our qualification comes from God,
who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant,
not of letter but of spirit.
Commentary on
2 Cor 3:1-6a

In this passage from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle is defending the Christian “Way” against Jewish factions that are clearly either attaching or claiming superiority over the faithful.
("Paul seems to allude to certain preachers who pride themselves on their written credentials. Presumably they reproach him for not possessing similar credentials and compel him to spell out his own qualifications (2 Cor 4:2; 5:12; 6:4)." [viii]) The Apostle first establishes that proof of their identity is in their outward witness of Christ. They do not need to claim the Hebrew heritage (“You are our letter, written on our hearts… not on tablets of stone”. They are the living sign. In this part of his apologetic, he first compares the Covenant of Moses (which ends in death) with the New Covenant (which ends in eternal life).

CCC: 2 Cor 3:3 700; 2 Cor 3:6 859

2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-7

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us,
we are not discouraged.
Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things;
not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God,
but by the open declaration of the truth
we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.
For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness,
has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
Commentary on
2 Cor 4:1-2, 5-7

St. Paul speaks of his own ministry to the people of Corinth. Using his actions as an example, he makes the case for repentance (“…we have renounced shameful, hidden things”) and against false teachers (“…not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God”). Paul then uses the “light in the darkness” metaphor. He seems to be thinking of
Genesis 1:3 and presenting his apostolic ministry as a new creation. In his final statement he makes it clear that it is for God’s glory in Christ that he proclaims this message and that the messenger himself is the humble “earthen vessel.

CCC: 2 Cor 4:6 298, 2583; 2 Cor 4:7 1420

2 Corinthians 5:14-20

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
Commentary on
2 Cor 5:14-20

This passage from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians has a distinctly sacramental flavor. First he speaks of dying with Christ, becoming one with him in the spirit. This occurs in the sacrament of Baptism. The whole idea of being reconciled to God in Christ is inherent in the Sacrament of Confirmation and concluded in the Eucharist. These of course are the three sacraments of Christian Initiation.

CCC: 2 Cor 5:14 616, 851; 2 Cor 5:15 605, 655, 1269; 2 Cor 5:17 1214, 1265; 2 Cor 5:17-18 1999; 2 Cor 5:18-21 2844; 2 Cor 5:18 981, 1442, 1461; 2 Cor 5:19 433, 620; 2 Cor 5:20 859, 1424, 1442

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters,
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit
through the bond of peace:
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ's gift.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ.
Commentary on
Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

St. Paul enjoins the Church at Ephesus to holiness and unity as part of his instructions on what it means to live the Christian life. Though one baptism (“the call you have received”) we are united in Christ and through Christ to God the Father. While humility is not listed in the Greek lists as a virtue, the evangelist raises self-effacing service of others to this status (see also 1 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 5:22, and Colossians 3:12).

He goes on speaking of the unity of different parts of the living body of Christ, the Church, saying that different gifts were given (similar lists are found at Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). He begins the list of gifts with those of spiritual leadership: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These have been called to service to others.

CCC: Eph 4-6 1454; Eph 4-5 1971; Eph 4:2 2219; Eph 4:3-5 866; Eph 4:3 814; Eph 4:4-6 172, 249, 2790; Eph 4:7 913; Eph 4:11-16 794; Eph 4:11-13 669; Eph 4:11 1575; Eph 4:13 674, 695, 2045

Colossians 1:24-29

Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God's stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.
But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
It is he whom we proclaim,
admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
For this I labor and struggle,
in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.
Commentary on
Col 1:24-29

This selection begins with St. Paul telling the Colossians that in Christ the revelation of God’s plan is brought to completion and he, in his suffering for the sake of that Gospel, is passing on that revelation to them. The Apostle speaks to the great sacrifice of Christ who offered his body for the salvation of all.  Through his sufferings he joins all Christians in solidarity with himself and the Father.  In the suffering we share on earth, we join with Jesus, and participate with him in his great offering of sacrifice.

“As the community at Colossae was not personally known to Paul (see Introduction), he here invests his teaching with greater authority by presenting a brief sketch of his apostolic ministry and sufferings as they reflect those of Christ on behalf of the church (24). The preaching of God's word (Col 1:25) carries out the divine plan (the mystery, Col 1:26) to make Christ known to the Gentiles (Col 1:27). It teaches the God-given wisdom about Christ (Col 1:28), whose power works mightily in the apostle (Col 1:29).”

The theme of unifying the “Body of Christ” in the face of great resistance or persecution (“I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his Body, which is the Church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God”) serves to bring Jew and gentile together as one community. The ultimate goal of St. Paul’s ministry is to bring everyone to Christ.
CCC: Col 1:24 307, 618, 1508; Col 1:27 568, 772

1 Thessalonians 2:2b-8

Brothers and sisters:
We drew courage through our God
to speak to you the Gospel of God with much struggle.
Our exhortation was not from delusion or impure motives,
nor did it work through deception.
But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel,
that is how we speak,
not as trying to please men,
but rather God, who judges our hearts.
Nor, indeed, did we ever appear with flattering speech, as you know,
or with a pretext for greed—God is witness—nor did we seek praise
from men, either from you or from others,
although we were able to impose our weight as Apostles of Christ.
Rather, we were gentle among you,
as a nursing mother cares for her children.
With such affection for you,
we were determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God,
but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.
Commentary on
1 Thes 2:2b-8
St. Paul describes his worthiness as being established in God’s eyes rather than the view of his abilities as seen by others. The Apostle provides an apology for his ministry emphasizing that the Gospel he brought to them was presented without cost, humbly, and with sincerity (“as a nursing mother cares for her children”). He communicates his affection for the Thessalonians and his hope that the word he has spoken will abide with them.


2 Timothy 1:13-14; 2:1-3

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,
in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit
who dwells within us.
So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And what you heard from me through many witnesses
entrust to faithful people
who will have the ability to teach others as well.
Bear your share of hardship along with me
like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Commentary on
2 Tm 1:13-14; 2:1-3

St. Paul exhorts his protégé, St. Timothy, to safeguard what the Apostle has given him, the Good News of Christ. He tells St. Timothy to hold fast to the Gospel using the indwelling strength of the Holy Spirit and, to pass this authentic teaching along through those he finds who can also teach it to others. He compares this task, in the final verse, to that of a soldier’s duty to a cause.

CCC: 2 Tm 1:12-14 84; 2 Tm 1:12 149; 2 Tm 1:13-14 857; 2 Tm 1:14 1202

2 Timothy 4:1-5

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but,
following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.
Commentary on
2 Tm 4:1-5

The Apostle begins this chapter with a solemn injunction to St. Timothy; “…perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. “ He emphasizes the need to “proclaim the word” persistently and in spite of the barriers he will encounter. St. Paul warns that the task will be difficult and that false teachers will arise with competing doctrines and “myths”.

CCC: 2 Tm 4 2015; 2 Tm 4:1 679

1 Peter 5:1-4

I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing it not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Commentary on
1 Pt 5:1-4

St. Peter, first among the Apostles, concludes his first letter writing specifically to those who have been appointed to lead local Christian communities. These individuals would have been appointed by the Apostles as they traveled on their missionary journeys.  He provides a view of leadership consistent with Christ’s teaching and contradicting the Jewish leadership style which was authoritarian. He exhorts the Presbyters or Elders to offer their service as a gift to God and provide leadership through their example of humility.

"St Gregory the Great teaches that the pastor of souls "should always give the lead, to show by his example the way to life, so that his flock (who follow the voice and the actions of the pastor) are guided more by example than by words; his position obliges him to speak of elevated things, and also to manifest them personally; the word more easily gains access to the hearts of hearers when it carries with it the endorsement of the life of him who when giving instructions assists in their fulfillment by his own example" ("Regulae Pastoralis Liber", 2, 3)." [x]

CCC: 1 Pt 5:3 893, 1551; 1 Pt 5:4 754


Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest."
Commentary on
Mt 9:35-38

This selection emphasizes Jesus' early struggle to accomplish what he came to do by himself. We sense the humanness as he says: "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few." Immediately following this discourse the 12 are named and sent.

CCC: Mt 9:38 2611
2. For a Pope

Matthew 16:13-19

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
and he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Commentary on
Mt 16:13-19

St. Matthew’s story of how Jesus asked about what people were saying about him has a profound impact on the Church. Here, when challenged by Jesus with the question,But who do you say that I am?Simon answers,You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” The second title is not present in St. Mark’s version of this encounter. The title adds an understanding that Jesus is not just the Messiah, but also the Son of God. Given this response, Jesus confers upon Simon a new name “Kephaswhich comes from the root Aramaic word Kepa or “Rock.” When translated into Greek it is Petros, and from there to Peter. The name, however, becomes the foundation for the Church. As a consequence of this exchange, Peter is given Christ’s authority, an authority that is passed down through Papal Succession to the Pope who sits on the Chair of Peter today.

CCC: Mt 16-18 1969; Mt 16:16-23 440; Mt 16:16 424, 442; Mt 16:17 153, 442; Mt 16:18-19 881; Mt 16:18 424, 442, 552, 586, 869; Mt 16:19 553, 1444

Matthew 23:8-12

Jesus spoke to his disciples:
"Do not be called 'Rabbi.'
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called 'Master';
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
Commentary on
Mt 23:8-12

Jesus has launched an attack on the Jewish Leadership for their authoritarian style, placing burdens on the people and seeking places of honor and titles for themselves. In this selection he describes his example of spiritual leadership. He speaks of the humility he exemplifies, placing God the Father in the place of the one true master and all who follow him as servants. See also Luke 14:11

CCC: Mt 23:9 2367; Mt 23:12 526
4. For Missionaries

Matthew 28:16-20

The Eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
Commentary on
Mt 28:16-20

This passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew presents “The Commissioning” monolog that concludes this Gospel. The doubting disciples are reassured that all the Lord had predicted, and all the prophets had foretold, had come to pass, and the Lord had now assumed his place with the Father. He then sends them out to continue his earthly mission. His command to them is an important one: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” In this statement, we receive the proper “form” and institution of the Sacrament of Baptism and the command to bring all nations to follow the Lord. The critically important emphasis here is: "make disciples," which goes beyond the sacramental act of Baptism, the imparting of the Holy Spirit, to converting the hearts of those so washed. Finally, he reassures them that he will be with them always.

CCC: Mt 28:16-20 857, 1444; Mt 28:16-17 645; Mt 28:17 644; Mt 28:18-20 1120; Mt 28:19-20 2, 767, 849, 1223, 1257, 1276

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw .lames, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
Commentary on
Mk 1:14-20

It is noteworthy to observe that all of the Gospel accounts show Jesus beginning his public ministry after the active ministry of St. John the Baptist has ended. The “Voice” decreases while the “Word” increases. We see the charismatic power of the Lord in the call of the first disciples from St. Mark’s Gospel. They follow him without inducement beyond his simple invitation to follow him. It is also notable that three of these first four, Simon, James, and John, develop the closest relationships with the Lord of all the disciples.

CCC: Mk 1:15 541, 1423, 1427; Mk 1:16-20 787
6. For Missionaries

Mark 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
"Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Commentary on
Mk 16:15-20

The verse just prior to this passage. which is the ending of St. Mark’s Gospel, indicates that the disciples are still not sure what has happened (typical of the image we have of the disciples in St. Mark's Gospel). Jesus comes to them at table, rebuking them for their unbelief. That sets the stage for this commissioning address by the Lord. Once again the disciples, now Apostles, are sent into the world with God’s blessing. This action is important because it supports the universal mission of the Twelve. In response to the Lord's instructions the Apostles went into the world, accompanied by the Holy Spirit ("while the Lord worked with them"). They demonstrated the truth that is Christ risen.

CCC: Mk 16:15-16 977, 1223; Mk 16:15 888; Mk 16:16 161, 183, 1253, 1256, 1257; Mk 16:17-18 670, 1507; Mk 16:17 434, 1673; Mk 16:18 699; Mk 16:19 659, 659; Mk 16:20 2, 156, 670
7. For Missionaries

Luke 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of them, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."
Simon said in reply,
"Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets."
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
"Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men."
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.
Commentary on
Lk 5:1-11

St. Luke’s Gospel presents the call of St. Peter, St. James, and St. John to discipleship. The Lord has demonstrated his authority through his teaching, and then through the miraculous catch of fish. We note the similarity of this incident with the post-resurrection incident recounted in St. John’s Gospel (John 21:1-11).

At Jesus' summons, Simon and the two sons of Zebedee leave all they have and follow the Lord. No mention is made here of Simon’s (Peter’s) brother Andrew who would also have been there, and in fact, as a disciple of John the Baptist, actually introduced the two (John 1:41 ff). We do hear that James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were also there as Simon’s partners, and are called at the same time.

Simon Peter’s response to the Lord’s call is one of being sinful and therefore unworthy of the presence of the Lord. In response to Simon’s fearful humility, Jesus invites them all to leave what they have and become fishers of men.

CCC: Lk 5:8 208

Luke 10:1-9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, 'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
`The Kingdom of God is at hand for you."'
Commentary on
Lk 10:1-9

It is only in the Gospel of St. Luke that we hear the story of Jesus sending the seventy (two). This event is supported by other non-biblical writings (see
Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 265-c. 340) Church History, Book. 1 ). The instructions given to those sent out are very similar to the instructions given to the Twelve, as was the message they were sent to proclaim.

This selection emphasizes Jesus early struggle to accomplish what he came to do by himself. We sense the humanness as he says; "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;" We also find this event and statement in St. Matthew’s Gospel where instead of the 72 he names the 12 (Matthew 10:1-8). While in St. Matthew’s story Jesus sends them, first to the Hebrew people, St. Luke makes no such distinction.

This effort by Jesus was modeled on Moses’ leadership structure in which 70 elders were appointed (Numbers 11:24-25). It is also possible that the reference number 70 relates to the number of nations mentioned in Genesis 10. The disciples were sent two by two a custom that would be replicated later in the post-resurrection missionary activities of the Church (see Acts 8:14; 15:39-40).

In another historical similarity, the disciples were sent without possessions, presumably depending upon the traditionally required hospitality for their support. Similar instructions were given by the Prophet Elisha as he sent his servant in 2 Kings 4:29.

The Lord’s instructions concerning this hospitality “…laborer deserves payment” is also quoted in St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 5:18b) and has further support in 1 Corinthians 9:7, 14. Those who labor on behalf of the Gospel and cannot take time to support themselves deserve the support of the community. In a final twist, the Lord’s instruction to “…eat what is set before you” sets aside Mosaic dietary laws (also 1 Corinthians 10:27 and Acts 10:25). It is a clear indication that the scope of their mission is to call all peoples to the Gospel.


CCC: Lk 10:1-2 765; Lk 10:2 2611; Lk 10:7 2122

Luke 22:24-30

An argument broke out among the Apostles
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
Jesus said to them,
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as `Benefactors;'
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Commentary on
Lk 22:24-30

This argument among the disciples is timed ironically in that it occurs in the upper room during the feast of the last supper, following the Lord’s announcement that one of his closest friends would betray him. Jesus proceeds to provide the disciples with straightforward teaching about the servant role they were to exemplify. He then promises all of them that, because they will have stood by him, they will also be with him in heaven.

CCC: Lk 22:26-27 894; Lk 22:27 1570; Lk 22:28-30 787; Lk 22:29-30 551; Lk 22:30 765

John 10:11-16

Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd."
Commentary on
Jn 10:11-16

We come to the climax of Jesus' debates with the Jewish leadership. He is in the temple precincts now. He came there at a time when many of those from all over the region would be there, the Feast of Hanukkah. Here he contrasts himself (the Good Shepherd) with false shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:1-16), presumably the Pharisees who fail to recognize him. Using the analogy of the sheepfold, he reminds the listener that all manner of people may enter a sheepfold. Those “false shepherds” scatter the sheep and they fall to utter ruin. But only the rightful owner will be recognized by the sheep and bring safety (salvation). The passage concludes with the universal statement of unity: “…there will be one flock, one shepherd."

CCC: Jn 10:11-15 754; Jn 10:11 553, 754; Jn 10:16 60

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."
Commentary on
Jn 15:9-17

The discourse on the union of Jesus with his disciples continues. His words become a monologue and go beyond the immediate crisis of Christ’s departure. In this passage Jesus focuses on the chain of love from the Father, through the Son, to his adopted sons and daughters.

There is much made of the use of the difference in the Greek words for"love" used in this discourse. When Jesus says: "No one has greater love than this…" the word agapao (intimate, selfless love) is used, while when he says: "You are my friends…" the word phileo (casual "friendly" (brotherly) type of love) is used. St. John uses the two words synonymously so the message is clear, reiterated at the end of the passage: "Love one another."

St. John also distinguishes the disciples' new relationship with God saying, “I no longer call you slaves…I have called you friends.” Jesus designates the disciples “friends of God.” This designation is supported and defined in other places in sacred scripture. It separates the disciples from Moses, Joshua, and David who carried the designation “Servants of the Lord” (see Deuteronomy 34:5Joshua 24:29, and Psalm 89:21). Calling them “friends” of God establishes the same relationship as that enjoyed by Abraham (see James 2:23): “Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called 'the friend of God.'"[vii] The clear reference was that they, like Abraham, would be patriarchs of the New Covenant.

CCC: Jn 15:9-10 1824; 15:9 1823; 15:12 459, 1823, 1970, 2074; 15:13 363, 609, 614; 15:15 1972, 2347; 15:16-17 2745; 15:16 434, 737, 2615, 2815
12. For a Pope

John 21:15-17

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and
eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
"Do you love me?" and he said to him,
"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."
Commentary on
Jn 21:15-17

Following the third revelation to the disciples, as they were fishing at the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus now focuses on Peter, making sure he understands his role in the foundation of the Church. The triple confession of Peter reverses his earlier denial of the Lord the night of the Passion (Matthew 26:69ff; Mark 14:29-31, 66-72; John 13:36-38, 18:15-18, 18:25-27). This is also a key passage, identified by the Church as Christ’s post-resurrection assignment of Peter to be the shepherd of the Church, essentially establishing the beginning of Apostolic Succession.

CCC: Jn 21:13-15 645; Jn 21:15-17 553, 881, 1429, 1551
Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

[i] The picture is “Madonna and Child with a Shepherd” by Anton von Maron, 1750’s
[ii] See Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc.© 1968, pp. 64, 90
[iii] See Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, pp.350, 22.
[iv] See NAB footnote on Ps 23:5
[v] See NAB footnote on Psalm 96
[vi] See NAB footnote on Colossians 1:24ff
[vii] St. James synthesizes Isaiah 41:8 and 2 Chronicles 20:7 in which Abraham is called God’s friend.
[viii] The Navarre Bible: “Major Prophets”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp.733
[ix] The Navarre Bible: “Major Prophets”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 231
[x] The Navarre Bible: “Major Prophets”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 346

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