Friday, November 12, 2010

THE COMMON OF HOLY MEN AND WOMEN

"Holy Women at Christ' s Tomb"
by Annibale Carracci,1590s
THE COMMON OF HOLY MEN AND WOMEN

737 READING I FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

1.
Genesis 12:1-4a

The Lord said to Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.

“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”

Abram went as the Lord directed him.
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Commentary on Genesis 12:1-4a

The genealogy of the Hebrew generations that ended with Abram and his wife migrating to the land of Ur (Genesis 11:27ff) sets this reading as a formal introduction. Abram (later Abraham) is chosen by God to become a great leader of people in holiness. "The universalism that marked Genesis chapters 1-11 having now failed, the Lord begins anew, singling out one Mesopotamian - in no way distinguished from his peers as yet - and promising to make of him a great nation, not numbered in the seventy nations of chapter 10.  What the Lord promises Abram (his name is changed to "Abraham" only in Chapter 17) - land, numerous offspring, and blessing - constitutes to a large extent a reversal of some of the curses on Adam and Eve - exile, pain in childbirth, and uncooperative soil (Genesis 3:16-24)."[15]
 
The blessing provided here is discussed at some length in the notes on this section: “Shall find blessing in you: the sense of the Hebrew expression is probably reflexive, "shall bless themselves through you" (i.e., in giving a blessing they shall say, "May you be as blessed as Abraham"), rather than passive, "shall be blessed in you." Since the term is understood in a passive sense in the New Testament (Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8), it is rendered here by a neutral expression that admits to both meanings; so also in the blessings given by God to Isaac (Genesis 26:4) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14).”[16]

CCC: Gn 12:1-4 145; Gn 12:1 59; Gn 12:2 762, 1669; Gn 12:3 706, 2676; Gn 12:3 LXX 59; Gn 12:4 2570
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2.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for 1, the LORD, your God, am holy.

"You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD."
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Commentary on Lv 19:1-2, 17-18

This passage describes the rules of conduct from Leviticus, the third book of the Torah or Pentateuch. The book was so named because its contents are almost entirely legislative, probably written by and for the priestly tribe of Levi.
 
This selection is part of what is known as the “Code of Legal Holiness.” Echoed here are statutes that incorporate and expand the “Ten Commandments,” the Decalogue. These verses establish the rules for relationships with others. They begin with a phrase that is repeated many times in Leviticus: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.
 
The “code” continues with the ban against stealing, lying, defrauding, or having unfair business relationships. Perhaps most significant in this passage is v. 18b: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Christ uses this section of the law in tandem with the first commandment in the Decalogue as the “Great Commandment.” While it is defined by Mosaic Law as applying only to interactions with one’s countrymen, Jesus defines it to include even our enemies.

CCC: Lv 19:2 2811; Lv 19:18 2055
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3.
Deuteronomy 6:3-9

Moses said to the people:
"Hear, Israel, and be careful to observe these commandments,
that you may grow and prosper the more,
in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers,
to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.
Drill them into your children.
Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.
Bind them at your wrist as a sign
and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates."
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Commentary on Dt 6:3-9

The tale of Moses leading the children of Israel (Jacob) presents an important event. Moses begins in this passage giving the tribes the Shema Yisrael, arguably the most important of all Jewish prayers. It embodies the whole of Mosaic Law and is quoted by Christ as “the greatest and the first commandment,” summarizing the whole law of God.

His injunction to “Take to heart these words” gives rise to a number of Hebrew traditions including the use of phylacteries (“…as a pendant on your forehead”).

CCC: Dt 6:4-5 201, 459, 2093; Dt 6:4 228, 2083; Dt 6:5 368, 2055, 2133
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4. For Religious
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."
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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.

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5. For Religious
1 Kings 19:4-9a, 11-15a

Elijah went a day's journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
"This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers."
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
"Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!"
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

There he came to a cave, where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
"Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by."
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD--
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
A voice said to him, "Elijah, why are you here?"
He replied, "I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts.
But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant,
torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword.
I alone am left, and they seek to take my life."
The LORD said to him,
"Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus."
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Commentary on 1 Kgs 19:4-9a, 11-15a

This episode from the tale of Elijah finds the prophet fleeing from Jezebel who was the ruler of Beer-sheba. Elijah, in order to demonstrate the superiority of God over the false god Baal, had defeated and slain the priests of Baal and was under sentence of death (see 1 Kings 19:2). He flees into the desert believing he had failed God and, in frustration, gives up, asking God to take his life.Exhausted he falls asleep under the broom tree (really more of a desert shrub than a tree but often used by Bedouins for protection from the wind). The Lord sends a messenger to him and commands him to eat the bread he offered and drink the water he provided. The messenger then leads Elijah to “the mountain of God, Horeb.” There is great symbolism in leading Elijah to that place. It is considered to be the same mountain upon which Moses received the Law (referred to by a different name as Mount Sinai). His forty days and forty nights journey represents a spiritual journey as well as distance.

Unsuccessful in bringing the people back to authentic worship of God, Elijah the Prophet flees to the same holy mountain where Moses was given the Law.

“Though various phenomena, such as wind, storms, earthquakes, fire (Exodus 19:18-19), herald the divine presence, they do not constitute the presence itself which, like the tiny whispering sound, is imperceptible and bespeaks the spirituality of God. It was fitting that Elijah, whose mission it was to re-establish the covenant and restore the pure faith, should have returned to Horeb where the covenant was revealed to Moses and through him to the Israelite people (Exodus 3:1-4, 17; 33:18-34:9). Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the time of his transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:1-7; Luke 9:28-36).” [1]

Following God’s revelation, Elijah is sent toward Damascus where he will be instrumental in bringing Israel back to the God by appointing (anointing) new leaders, including his own successor Elisha.

CCC: 1 Kg 19:1-14 2583; 1 Kg 19:5 332
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6. For Religious
1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21

The LORD said to Elijah:“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah,as prophet to succeed you.”Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;he was following the twelfth.Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,and I will follow you.”Elijah answered, “Go back!Have I done anything to you?”Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,and gave it to his people to eat.Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
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Commentary on 1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21

Elijah’s time is coming to an end, and God instructs him to select his successor, Elisha. In response to God’s instruction, Elijah travels to a region near Damascus, and finds Elisha plowing a field using the symbolic 12 Oxen (for the twelve tribes of Israel). “Elijah's act of throwing his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha expressed the divine call to share the prophetic mission. Elisha's prompt response through destruction of his plow and the oxen is an example of total obedience and detachment from his former manner of living in order to promote the glory of God.” [2]

"Elisha's response to Elijah's call is quite exemplary: he leaves everything behind and puts himself at the disposal of the prophet. That will be how the apostles respond to Christ (cf. Matthew 4:20, 22; etc.), and it should be how anyone responds when the Lord calls him or her to a mission which involves leaving everything. But the call issued by Jesus is more pressing than Elijah's, as can be seen from the Gospel passage where Jesus, in response to someone who says, 'I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home,' replies, 'No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God' (Luke 9:61-62)."[13]

CCC: 1 Kgs 19:16 436
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7.
Tobit 8:4b-8

On their wedding night Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife,
"My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord
to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance."
She got up, and they started to pray
and beg that deliverance might be theirs.
He began with these words:

"Blessed are you, O God of our fathers;
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and support;
and from these two the human race descended.
You said, 'it is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a partner like himself.'
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age."

They said together, "Amen, amen."
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Commentary on Tb 8:4b-8

Previously, in the story of Tobit, the unrecognized archangel Raphael who was in the guise of a traveling companion of Tobiah (son of Tobit) had warned him (Tobiah) that his bride Sarah was hounded by a demon that had killed seven previous husbands on their wedding night. He gave instructions as to how this demon could be driven off using the liver and heart of a fish (see Tobit 6:14-18). The prayer of husband (Tobiah) and wife (Sarah) demonstrates the couple’s recognition that God has commanded this union and that the demon that represented lust was banished by their prayerful approach to the sacred union quoting Genesis 2:18.

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8. For Those Who Work for the Underprivileged
Tobit 12:6-14a

The angel Raphael said to Tobit and his son:
"Thank God!
Give him the praise and the glory.
Before all the living,
acknowledge the many good things he has done for you,
by blessing and extolling his name in song.
Before all people, honor and proclaim God's deeds,
and do not be slack in praising him.
A king's secret it is prudent to keep,
but the works of God are to be declared and made known.
Praise them with due honor.
Do good, and evil will not find its way to you.
Prayer and fasting are good,
but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness.
A little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness.
It is better to give alms than to store up gold;
for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin.
Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life;
but those habitually guilty of sin are their own worst enemies.

"I will now tell you the whole truth;
I will conceal nothing at all from you.
I have already said to you,
`A king's secret it is prudent to keep,
but the works of God are to be made known with due honor.'
I can now tell you that when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed,
it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer
before the Glory of the Lord;
and I did the same thing when you used to bury the dead.
When you did not hesitate to get up
and leave your dinner in order to go and bury the dead,
I was sent to put you to the test."
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Commentary on Tb 12:6-14a

At this point in the story of Tobit, the prophet asks his son to pay the “man” that had accompanied him, not realizing that who they thought was a man was really Raphael, the Archangel. When they approach him to give a generous reward, Raphael unmasks himself and instructs them to give praise to God for the saving acts.

Special emphasis is made in Raphael’s instruction to act in accordance with the Law of Moses (righteousness), and acts of charity (almsgiving). These two actions are better even than prayer and fasting, private worship of God. The recurring statement: “A king’s secret it is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be declared and made known.

CCC: Tb 12:8 1434; Tb 12:12 336
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9. For Widows
Judith 8:2-8

Judith's husband, Manasseh, of her own tribe and clan,
had died at the time of the barley harvest.
While he was in the field supervising those who bound the sheaves,
he suffered sunstroke;
and he died of this illness in Bethulia, his native city.
Manasseh was buried with his fathers
in the field between Dothan and Balamon.
The widowed Judith remained three years and four months at home,
where she set up a tent for herself on the roof of her house.
She put sackcloth about her loins and wore widow's weeds.
She fasted all the days of her widowhood,
except Sabbath eves and Sabbaths, new moon eves and new moons,
feastdays and holidays of the house of Israel.
She was beautifully formed and lovely to behold.

Her husband, Manasseh, the son of Joseph,
the son of Ahitub, the son of Melchis,
the son of Eliab, the son of Nathanael,
the son of Sarasadai, the son of Simeon,
had left her gold and silver,
servants and maids, livestock and fields,
which she was maintaining.
No one had a bad word to say about her,
for she was a very God-fearing woman.
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Commentary on Judith 8:2-8

Judith (the name means "Jewess") is described in this passage as having all of the qualities of the exemplary woman of her time. She is, according to the text, beautiful, wealthy, and pious to a fault. Her actions upon the death of her husband follow precisely Hebrew Law concerning mourning and penitence. She is a shining example, for those who share her state in life, of the peace offered by God's mercy.

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10.
Esther C: 1-7, 10

Mordecai prayed:
"O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, blessed are you;
O Lord God, almighty King, all things are in your power,
and there is no one to oppose you in your will to save Israel.
You made heaven and earth
and every wonderful thing under the heavens.
You are LORD of all,
and there is no one who can resist you, LORD.
You know all things.
You know, O LORD, that
gladly would I have kissed the soles of Haman's feet
for the salvation of Israel.
But I acted as I did so as not to place the honor of man
above that of God.
I will not bow down to anyone but you, my LORD and God.
Hear my prayer; have pity on your inheritance
and turn our sorrow into joy:
thus we shall live to sing praise to your name, O LORD.
Do not silence those who praise you."
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Commentary on Es C: 1-7, 10

This passage from Esther is the prayer of Mordecai. Because Mordecai has refused to do homage to Haman, second in command to King Ahasuerus, Haman has persuaded the King to have all the Jews in his kingdom killed. Mordecai has, in turn, persuaded Queen Esther to go the the King (without being summoned, an action which can result in death under the King's law) and plead the case of the Jews. At first reluctant, Esther agrees but asks that all the Jews in the land put on sackcloth, fast and pray for her safety. This prayer is Mordecai's response to that request.

It resembles in many ways the Psalms, giving praise to God and asking him to show his power and save the people he has chosen from this threat. We note the confidence in God's power to protect his inheritance - the Jewish People.

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11.
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax
and cloth with skillful hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

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Commentary on Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

This entire section (Proverbs 31:10-31) is an acrostic poem (each strophe starting with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet). It is sincere praise for the virtuous wife (unlike Ecclesiastes 7:28 in which the author finds guile) and is intended to be a model for the good Hebrew wife to follow. The strophes selected emphasize first the esteem in which she is to be held by all (not just her family), and next the example of diligence in the tasks she performs. The concluding strophe is praise for the woman who “fears the Lord,” as indicated earlier in Proverbs 9:10 and 1:7. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

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12.
Sirach 2:7-13

You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the Lord, love him
and your hearts will be enlightened.
Study the generations long past and understand;
has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken?
Has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the LORD;
he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble
and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.
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Commentary on Sir 2:7-13

This passage from Sirach is a litany for the faithful – first to wait for the Lord, then to trust him, hope in him, and finally to love him. He reminds the reader of God’s compassion and mercy in the past and assures his forgiveness to those who seek it.

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13.
Sirach 3:17-24***

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.
The greater you are,
the more you must humble yourself in all things,
and you will find grace before God.
For great is the power of God;
by the humble he is glorified.
What is too sublime for you, seek not,
into things beyond your strength search not.
What is committed to you, attend to;
for it is not necessary for you to see with your eyes
those things which are hidden.
With what is too much for you meddle not,
when shown things beyond human understanding.
Their own opinion has misled many,
and false reasoning unbalanced their judgment.
Where the pupil of the eye is missing, there is no light,
and where there is no knowledge, there is no wisdom.
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Commentary on Sir 3:17-24

Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, the author of this book provides a list of “Wisdom Sayings.” The haughty attitude of unworthy children gives the author a vehicle to extol the virtue of humility. He points these exhortations specifically at Hellenistic philosophers (“What is too sublime for you, seek not…”) who attempt to bring God to the level of mankind, reproaching them for trying to apply human logic to things of faith.

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14.
Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16

Blessed the husband of a good wife,
twice-lengthened are his days;
A worthy wife brings joy to her husband,
peaceful and full is his life.
A good wife is a generous gift
bestowed upon him who fears the LORD;
Be he rich or poor, his heart is content,
and a smile is ever on his face.

A gracious wife delights her husband,
her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones;
A gift from the LORD is her governed speech,
and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth.
Choicest of blessings is a modest wife,
priceless her chaste soul.
A holy and decent woman adds grace upon grace;
indeed, no price is worthy of her temperate soul.
Like the sun rising in the LORD'S heavens,
the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.
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Commentary on Sir 26:1-4, 13-16

The son of Sirach writes beautifully about the virtues of the “good wife”. The virtues of the good wife are extolled; thoughtfulness, humility, grace, temperance, and chastity. They bring joy to her husband and honor to her house. Although not included in this selection, these attributes are contrasted with the sins of the wicked wife in this section of the book.

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15. For Those Who Work for the Underprivileged
Isaiah 58:6-11

Thus says the LORD:
This is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
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Commentary on Is 58:6-11

This passage is from what is known as Deutero-Isaiah. It was written in the latter part of the Babylonian exile (700 BC). Isaiah laments and he chastises the people for missing the point of their fasts of atonement. They perform the rituals and follow the law but then violate the spirit of God’s Law by being uncaring and cruel to each other.
 
The prophet explains what that spirit is and how it is to impact their actions and closes with the reward for following the spirit of God’s Law – “Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’”[11] He goes on to describe the salvific effect of these actions of charity and compassion as being as a light in darkness as rain in parched land. He concludes with what can be seen as baptismal reference (well-spring of holiness) that brings eternal life.

CCC: Is 58:6-7 2447
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16.
Jeremiah 20:7-9

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
All the day I am an object for laughter,
everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
The word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in,
I cannot endure it.
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Commentary on Jer 20:7-9

Jeremiah’s oracle has foreseen the fall of Jerusalem and the great exile as Israel is sent into slavery in Babylon. In this passage he makes an emotional outpouring to God. He recognizes that God’s word makes him outcast and people think of him as a lunatic but even though he has tried to be silent God’s call forces him to cry out in the prophetic voice.

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17.
Micah 6:6-8

With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow before God most high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
Shall I give my first-born for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
You have been told, O man, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do the right and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
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Commentary on Mi 6:6-8

We hear in these verses from the Prophet Micah, a response by the prophet to a lament by God against the impious of Israel. The prophet asks what it is that will please the Lord, listing greater and greater sacrifices, culminating in the sacrifice asked of Abraham: the sacrifice of the supplicant’s first-born. The passage ends with God’s response, for the listener to repent from evil and love what is good, closing with the phrase made popular in song: “…and to walk humbly with your God.” This is one of the best expressions of the prophetic teaching on religion, the preparation for such New Testament passages as James 1:27.

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18.
Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth,
who have observed his law;
Seek justice, seek humility;
perhaps you may be sheltered
on the day of the LORD'S anger.

But I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
Who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord:
the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
Nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
They shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them.
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Commentary on Zep 2:3; 3:12-13

In this selection the Prophet Zephaniah sends a caution to Jerusalem similar to Amos 1-2 and Isaiah 1:21-26. The leadership must renounce pride and return in humility to the Lord. In this way they will avoid God’s anger (an anger that nearly destroyed Nineveh and is described as bringing down destruction on any groups who have assaulted God's chosen people). 
 
Moving forward to the next chapter, the focus is changed from a warning to the promise of salvation. The righteous “remnant” (of the house of Judah, v 2:7) who trust in God are given peace and prosperity as a reward for their humility and obedience to the Lord.
 
CCC: Zep 2:3 64, 711, 716
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738 READING I FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT
DURING THE SEASON OF EASTER


First Option For Religious
Acts 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.
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Commentary on Acts 4:32-35

This selection from Acts is the second summary describing the community of faith at Jerusalem. The description is of a community completely unified in the faith of the risen Lord living, in accordance with the practices followed by the disciples when they were with Jesus, sharing all material possessions.

CCC: Acts 4:32 952, 2790; Acts 4:33 995
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Second Option
Revelation 3:14b, 20-22

“’The Amen, the faithful and true witness,
the source of God's creation, says this;
“’”Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
then I will enter his house and dine with him,
and he with me.
I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne,
as I myself first won the victory
and sit with my Father on his throne.

“’”Whoever has ears ought to hear
what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
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Commentary on Rv 3:14b, 20-22

St. John addresses the Church of Laodicea[1] . His principal thrust is the lack of zeal for the faith they have shown. In this passage, the vision of St. John conveys the idea of the Holy Spirit reaching out to the Church, asking her to be strong and valorous in faith, inviting them to share God’s ultimate victory.

CCC: Rv 3:14 1065
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Third Option
Revelation 19:1, 5-9a

I, John, heard what sounded like the loud voice
of a great multitude in heaven, saying:
"Alleluia!
Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God."

A voice coming from the throne said:

"Praise our God, all you his servants,
and you who revere him, small and great."

Then I heard something like the sound of a great multitude
or the sound of rushing water or mighty peals of thunder,
as they said:

"Alleluia!
The Lord has established his reign,
our God, the almighty.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory.
For the wedding day of the Lamb has come,
his bride has made herself ready.
She was allowed to wear
a bright, clean linen garment."
(The linen represents the righteous deeds of the holy ones.)

Then the angel said to me,
"Write this:
Blessed are those who have been called
to the wedding feast of the Lamb."
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Commentary on Rev 19:1, 5-9a

“A victory song follows, sung by the entire church, celebrating the marriage of the Lamb, the union of the Messiah with the community of the elect.” The significance of this passage as it relates especially to martyrs is the earlier reference to the “white robed” martyrs who have “have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). The wedding feast to which they are invited indicates their reception into the fullness of the Heavenly Kingdom.


CCC: Rv 19:1-8 2642; Rv 19:1-9 677; Rv 19:6 865; Rv 19:7 757, 1602, 1612; Rv 19:9 1329, 1602, 1612

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Fourth Option
Revelation 21:5-7

The One who was seated on the throne said:
"Behold, I make all things new."
Then he said, "Write these words down,
for they are trustworthy and true."
He said to me, "They are accomplished.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the beginning and the end.
To the thirsty I will give a gift
from the spring of life-giving water.
The victor will inherit these gifts,
and I shall be his God,
and he will be my son."
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Commentary on Rv 21:5-7

In this passage from the Revelations of St. John, the evangelist speaks of the reign of God having already begun (“I make all things new…” and “They are accomplished”). The “victor(s)” referred to are Christians who have been faithful in the face of trials, and the promise given is the adoption by Christ in Baptism.

CCC: Rv 21:1-22:5 117; Rv 21:5 1044; Rv 21:6 694, 1137; Rv 21:7 2788
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739 RESPONSORIAL PSALM


1.
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. (2a) Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. (92:13-14) The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.

Not so, the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Psalm 1 serves as a preface to the whole book of the psalms. The psalmist here exalts those who follow the Lord’s commands and reflects upon the blessings they will receive. As in Romans 6:19ff, this selection emphasizes the contrast between the salvation of the just and the punishment of the wicked.

This wisdom psalm begins by extolling the virtue of those who follow the law. The focus is to look to God for guidance and not to trust only in the counsel of men. Those who reject the law will be blown away like “chaff,” an image used in the Gospel as well (Matthew 3:12).

This portion of the psalm is later echoed in Isaiah 48:17-19 like an overlapped formula of covenant.  Blessed is the man who “delights in the law day and night,” but “the way of the wicked vanishes.” It also takes up the theme of following right paths and staying true to the teachings of God: “Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.
 
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2.
Psalm 15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5

R. (1) The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5

Psalm 15 is a didactic song instructing the faithful to follow God’s precepts and explaining that those who act in accord with the Law will receive God’s support and grace.

This selection records the response of the Temple representative when asked what virtues are appropriate in the eyes of God. The response lauds the person who follows the “Law,” specifically the Hebrew laws that warn against slander or false accusations. In the second strophe it honors the person who does no violence against another. And finally, in the last strophe, we are told that the person who does not charge interest on a loan (usury) is also uplifted.

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3.
Psalm 16:1-2ab 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 band forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 16:1-2ab 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.

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4.
Psalm 23:1-3, 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.
He guides me on right paths
for his name's sake.
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.
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Commentary on Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

Psalm 23 is one of the most familiar in the entire psalter. “God's loving care for the psalmist is portrayed under the figures of a shepherd for the flock (Psalm 23:1-4) and a host's generosity toward a guest (Psalm 23:5-6). The imagery of both sections is drawn from traditions of the exodus (Isaiah 40:11; 49:10; Jeremiah 31:10).” [i] While the theme of Shepherd is mentioned in the first strophe, the psalm really speaks to the peace given to those who follow the Lord and place their trust in HIm, even into the “dark valley”.

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).” [i]

CCC: Ps 23:5 1293
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5.
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R. (2) I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. (9) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear and be glad.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

Psalm 34 is a song of thanksgiving and a favorite for celebrating the heroic virtue of the saints. The psalmist, fresh from the experience of being rescued (Psalm 34:5, 7), can teach the "poor," those who are defenseless, to trust in God alone. This psalm, in the words of one being unjustly persecuted, echoes hope for deliverance and freedom. The promise of salvation for those who follow the Lord gives hope to the poor and downtrodden.

CCC: Ps 34:3 716; Ps 34:8 336
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6.
Psalm 103:1bc-2, 3-4, 8-9, 13-14, 17-18a

R. (1) O bless the Lord, my soul!

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him,
For he knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity
to eternity toward those who fear him,
And his justice toward his children's children
among those who keep his covenant.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
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Commentary on Ps 103:1bc-2, 3-4, 8-9, 13-14, 17-18

This hymn of praise focuses on God’s power and will to heal all ills and to support us in times of trouble. It is through his own will that he does this. The final two strophes reference God as a Father loving his children.

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7.
Psalm 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7b-8, 9

R. (1) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or;
R. Alleluia.

Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Lavishly he gives to the poor,
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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Commentary on Ps 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7b-8, 9

In this section of Psalm 112 the virtues of faithfully following God’s commandments are extolled. The one who follows the Lord will be upheld by God “in everlasting remembrance.”

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8.
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

Psalm 128 is a song of thanksgiving. It begins here with the typical blessings given to those following and having faith in the Lord. This selection uses the analogy of the family and the blessing it brings to the faithful, using the symbolism of vines and olives, imagery commonly used in sacred scripture.

It also supports the creation of woman and the marriage theme in Genesis 2:18-25. It is the logical extension of the two becoming one flesh and the children flowing from that union.
 
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9.
Psaim 131:1bcde, 2, 3

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.
R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother's lap,
so is my soul within me.
R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
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Commentary on Ps 131:1bcde, 2,3

Psalm 131 is an individual lament praying for harmony and humility among the members of the community. The singer proclaims trust in the Lord and peace, like children's contented peace, secure in the knowledge of the love and protection of their parents.

CCC: Ps 131:2 239; Ps 131:2-3 370
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740 READING II FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT

1.
Romans 8:26-30

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.
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Commentary on Rom 8:26-30

In the first paragraph of this selection St. Paul speaks about the impact the Holy Spirit has upon prayer. Even if one cannot express their needs, the Paraclete will search it out and intercede for Christ’s followers.

In the second part of the reading the Evangelist outlines the Christian vocation as God intended it to be. Because Christ existed eternally those called to him were carefully chosen or elected from the beginning of time to be called to salvation. “Predestined: [means] Selected for divine adoption by an eternal decree of God (Ephesians 1:4). Predestination is a mystery revealed but not fully understood; what we know for certain is that God is free to act as he chooses (Psalm 135:6) and man is free to accept or reject his blessings (Romans 2:6-8; Sirach 15:11-13).No one is predestined by God for eternal damnation (CCC 1037).”[3]

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2.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.
Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.
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Commentary on 1 Cor 1:26-31

St. Paul continues his attack on “worldly wisdom” by reminding the members of the church at Corinth that the community is comprised of all strata of society. He points out that all are called to the same Lord, and that the wisdom that is Jesus (“…who became for us wisdom from God”) makes them righteous, sanctified, and redeemed in him. It is for this reason that the only boast a Christian should make is in God. The evangelist does so, paraphrasing Jeremiah 9:23.

CCC: 1 Cor 1:27 489; 1 Cor 1:30 2813
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3. Long Form
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
If I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not Jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never falls.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know folly, as I am folly known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
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Commentary on 1 Cor 12:31—13:13

St. Paul shifts his focus from the diversity of the different functions within the Body of Christ (which is the Church), to the gifts common to those enlightened by Christ. First among these gifts is love which informs all reason, directing the Christian to the love of Christ.

“In speaking of love, Paul is led by spontaneous association to mention faith and hope as well. They are already a well-known triad (cf 1 Thessalonians 1:3), three interrelated features of Christian life, more fundamental than any particular charism. The greatest . . . is love: love is operative even within the other members of the triad, so that it has a certain primacy among them. Or, if the perspective is temporal, love will remain (cf "never fails,") even when faith has yielded to sight and hope to possession.” [10]

CCC: 1 Cor 12 1988, 2003; 1 Cor 13 735, 800; 1 Cor 13:1-4 1826; 1 Cor 13:4-7 1825; 1 Cor 13:5 953; 1 Cor 13:8 773; 1 Cor 13:12 163, 164, 314, 1023, 1720, 2519; 1 Cor 13:13 1813, 1826, 1841
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OR Short Form
1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Brothers and sisters:
Love is patient, love is land.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
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Commentary on 1 Cor 13:4-13

This shorter version of St. Paul’s discourse on the characteristics of Christian love (faith, and hope) omits the beginning verses, but retains the focus on unselfish and selfless nature of the relationship between members of the community, imitating Christ’s love for the Church.

CCC: 1 Cor 13 735, 800; 1 Cor 13:1-4 1826; 1 Cor 13:4-7 1825; 1 Cor 13:5 953; 1 Cor 13:8 773; 1 Cor 13:12 163, 164, 314, 1023, 1720, 2519; 1 Cor 13:13 1813, 1826, 1841
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4.
2 Corinthians 10:17-11:2

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.
For it is not the one who recommends himself who is approved,
but the one whom the Lord recommends.

If only you would put up with a little foolishness from me!
Please put up with me.
For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God,
since I betrothed you to one husband
to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
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Commentary on 2 Cor 10:17-11:2

St. Paul, in these chapters from his second letter to the Corinthians, is in the middle of a defense of his own ministry. He tells them that rather than immodestly boasting about his own forceful proclamation of the Gospel, he boasts only in Christ who accomplishes all good works through those chosen by him, not those who put themselves forward bragging of what they accomplished. The reading concludes reminding the faithful that God has adopted them (St. Paul’s jealousy is of that adoption). His feelings, as he hands them on to Christ in faith, are those of a father who gives his virgin daughter to her husband, in this case Christ.

Used on the feast of a martyred saint, we see in those concluding remarks from Ch. 11 the heroic virtue of a virgin saint as she embraces her martyrdom infused with the love of one betrothed to Christ.

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5.
Galatians 2:19-20

Brothers and sisters:
Through the law I died to the law,
that 1 might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ;
yet 1 live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;
insofar as I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God
who has loved me and given himself up for me.
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Commentary on Gal 2:19-20

In this selection of St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the Apostle contrasts actions that are in accord with the precepts of Mosaic Law against the interior life of faith that justifies us before God in Christ.

"2:20 crucified with Christ: Paul has died to an old order of things, namely, the slavery of sin and the regime of the Old Covenant.  He describes this elsewhere as a sacramental union with Jesus effected through Baptism (Romans 6:3-8). lives in me: Believers posses life that is natural and biological (human life) as well as supernatural and theological (divine life). who loved me: Jesus endured the torture and shame of the Cross for the entire world collectively and for every person individually (CCC 478, 616)" [7]

CCC: Gal 2:20 478, 616, 1380, 2666
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6.
Galatians 6:14-16

Brothers and sisters:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision,
but only a new creation.
Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule
and to the Israel of God.
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Commentary on Gal 6:14-16

St. Paul, in this selection, tells the Galatians that the Good News of Christ (and Him crucified) is for all people (“For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation”).

CCC: Gal 6:15 1214
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7.
Ephesians 3:14-19

Brothers and sisters:
I kneel before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Eph 3:14-19

St. Paul is addressing the Gentiles in Ephesus. “The apostle prays that those he is addressing may, like the rest of the church, deepen their understanding of God's plan of salvation in Christ. It is a plan that affects the whole universe (Ephesians 3:15) with the breadth and length and height and depth of God's love in Christ (Ephesians 3:18) or possibly the universe in all its dimensions. The apostle prays that they may perceive the redemptive love of Christ for them and be completely immersed in the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19)." [8]

CCC: Eph 3:14 239, 2214, 2367; Eph 3:16-17 1073, 2714; Eph 3:16 1995; Eph 3:18-21 2565
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8.
Ephesians 6:10-13, 18

Brothers and sisters:
Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.
Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm
against the tactics of the Devil.
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood
but with the principalities, with the powers,
with the world rulers of this present darkness,
with the evil spirits in the heavens.
Therefore, put on the armor of God,
that you may be able to resist on the evil day
and, having done everything, to hold your ground.

With all prayer and supplication,
pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication
for all the holy ones.
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Commentary on Eph 6:10-13, 18

This passage, continuing St. Paul’s exhortation on building up faith is “a general exhortation to courage and prayer. Drawing upon the imagery and ideas of Isaiah 11:5; 59:16-17; and Wisdom 5:17-23, Paul describes the Christian in terms of the dress (armor) and equipment of Roman soldiers. He observes, however, that the Christian's readiness for combat is not directed against human beings but against the spiritual powers of evil (see also Ephesians 1:21; 2:2; 3:10). Unique importance is placed upon prayer.”[4]

CCC: Eph 6:18-20 2636; Eph 6:18 1073, 1174, 2742
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9.
Philippians 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on the law
but that which comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God,
depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it
or have already attained perfect maturity,
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,
since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I for my part
do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
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Commentary on Phil 3:8-14

In his own profession he states: all he has given up for the Lord counts for nothing as he holds Christ’s Lordship as the only thing of worth. He goes on to say that it is only through his faith in Christ that he receives salvation, that his former devotion to the Law of Moses did not accomplish salvation (as the Jews believe).

This discourse likely addresses some members of the community who feel they have achieved a high state of grace and have lost their humility. By his example, Paul, who in his status as founder would be considered to have been further along this course, demonstrates the humble attitude that should be present.

St. Paul speaks to the community at Philippi about the primacy of following Christ as the (his) most important possession. He inverts the phrase saying Christ has taken possession of him which should not be interpreted as meaning he believed he had attained perfect spiritual maturity but rather that he (Paul) had given himself totally to the service of Jesus. Paul again uses himself as example, telling the Philippians that (even) he has not achieved the end goal of “perfect maturity” (a final state of grace), rather he still pursues that goal.This selection guides the rule of St. Francis, first in their vows of poverty and second, as Franciscan Order of Minim Fiars, in their view as the least of God’s children.

CCC: Phil 3:8-11 428; Phil 3:8 133; Phil 3:10-11 989, 1006; Phil 3:10 648
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10.
Philippians 4:4-9

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.
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Commentary on Phil 4:4-9

In the certain knowledge that Christ is with them, St. Paul begins this address, as part of a series of ethical instructions, by exhorting the Christian community to prayer. Through prayer God’s peace will come into their hearts and minds as a gift from Christ Jesus. He calls upon them to meditate upon the great good that is provided through God and provides a litany of adjectives; true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious as descriptors of Christ’s actions in their midst. Through a focus on what is excellent they will achieve the peace of Christ.

CCC: Phil 4:6-7 2633; Phil 4:8 1803
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11.
Colossians 3:12-17

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another,
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as In all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude In your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
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Commentary on Col 3:12-17

Here we have the introduction to the family hierarchy of the era described by St. Paul. This entire section of the letter is a discourse on harmony within the family of Christ. It is important to note the instruction given in the first part of this reading. Paul describes the Christian rules for relationships; “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another”. The consistent focus of the passage brings home the Pauline ideals of harmony and unity within the Christian Family.

CCC: Col 3:14 815, 1827, 1844; Col 3:16-17 1156, 2633; Col 3:16 2641
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12. For Widows
1 Timothy 5:3-10

Beloved:
Honor widows who are truly widows.
But if a widow has children or grandchildren,
let these first learn to perform their religious duty
to their own family and to make recompense to their parents,
for this is pleasing to God.
The real widow, who is all alone,
has set her hope on God
and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.
But the one who is self-indulgent is dead while she lives.
Command this, so that they may be irreproachable.
And whoever does not provide for relatives and especially family members
has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be enrolled If she is not less than sixty years old,
married only once, with a reputation for good works,
namely, that she has raised children, practiced hospitality,
washed the feet of the holy ones, helped those in distress,
involved herself in every good work.
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Commentary on 1 Tm 5:3-10

St. Paul addresses the Church regarding the care and treatment of widows. He does so, placing them into a number of categories. Those with children who can provide material support should be supported by their families and not become dependent upon the faith community. Those who were young (v.14ff) should not dedicate themselves solely to the service of Christ but should be open to remarriage. Those who were older (“…not less than sixty years old”) and who has led a pious life (“But the one who is self-indulgent is dead while she lives”) should be cared for by the community and held up as examples of holiness. This passage would be especially appropriate to extoll the virtues of the many Saints who were widowed.

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13.
James 2:14-17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
"Go In peace, keep warm, and eat well,"
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if It does not have works, is dead.
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Commentary on Jas 2:14-17

We are given St. James famous "faith without works” monologue. The author lays the foundation for the Church’s understanding of justification through both faith and actions (to be clear, justified in this context means: “the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin”[12]).

"The theme of these verses is the relationship of faith and works (deeds). It has been argued that the concept of justification expressed here contradicts that of Paul (see especially Romans 4:5-6). The problem can only be understood if the different viewpoints of the two authors are seen. Paul argues against those who claim to participate in God's salvation because of their good deeds as well as because they have committed themselves to trust in God through Jesus Christ (Paul's concept of faith). Paul certainly understands, however, the implications of true faith for a life of love and generosity (see Galatians 5:6, 13-15). The author of James is well aware that proper conduct can only come about with an authentic commitment to God in faith (James 2:18, 26). Many think he was seeking to correct a misunderstanding of Paul's view.”[4]


CCC: Jas 2:14-26 162; Jas 2:15-16 2447
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14.
1 Peter 3:1-9

You wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that,
even if some disobey the word,
they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct
when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior.
Your adornment should not be an external one:
braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes,
but rather the hidden character of the heart,
expressed in the imperishable beauty
of a gentle and calm disposition,
which is precious in the sight of God.
For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God
once used to adorn themselves
and were subordinate to their husbands;
thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him "lord."
You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation.

Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding,
showing honor to the weaker female sex,
since we are joint heirs of the gift of life,
so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic,
loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.
Do not return evil for evil, or insult for Insult;
but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called,
that you might inherit a blessing.
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Commentary on 1 Pt 3:1-9

St. Peter continues his exhortation to domestic harmony. In this passage he begins by speaking to married couples. While this may seem to be echoing St. Paul’s address to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:21ff) Peter is more explicitly speaking of situations in which the husband (or wife) are not Christian. The Apostle points out that a passive example of holiness, in this situation, may be more effective than preaching conversion. He concludes the passage with a general instruction to all members of the community extolling the virtues of humility, compassion and love.

CCC: 1 Pt 3:1-7 2204; 1 Pt 3:9 1669
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15.
1 Peter 4:7b-l 1

Beloved:
Be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.
Above all, let your love for one another be intense,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another
as good stewards of God's varied grace.
Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God;
whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies,
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
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Commentary on 1 Pt 4:7b-11

“The inner life of the eschatological community” (the Christian Community’s focus on the end times) “is outlined as the end (the parousia of Christ) and the judgment draws near in terms of seriousness, sobriety, prayer, and love expressed through hospitality and the use of one's gifts for the glory of God and of Christ”. [3] The concluding doxology may have been the ending of an address or possibly even the conclusion of a baptismal celebration.

CCC: 1 Pt 4:6 634; 1 Pt 4:7 670, 1806; 1 Pt 4:8 1434
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16. For Those Who Work for the Underprivileged
1 John 3:14-18

Beloved:
We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.
Whoever does not love remains in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that anyone who is a murderer
does not have eternal life remaining in him.
The way we came to know love
was that he laid down his life for us;
so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
If someone who has worldly means
sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion,
how can the love of God remain in him?
Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
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Commentary on 1 Jn 3:14-18

St. John continues his narrative on righteousness and love in this passage. Note, he has not really focused on what he considers to be the central teaching of Christ – love one another. In this particular section he begins with the comparison from scripture of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16). He brings that rationale as to why the world, in his eyes intrinsically evil, hates the Christian community, who are good because they love each other.

CCC: 1 Jn 3:15 1033; 1 Jn 3:17 2447
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17.
1 John 4:7-16

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.
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Commentary on 1 Jn 4:7-16

Love as we share in it testifies to the nature of God and to his presence in our lives. One who loves shows that one is a child of God and knows God, for God's very being is love; one without love is without God. The revelation of the nature of God's love is found in the free gift of his Son to us, so that we may share life with God and be delivered from our sins. The love we have for one another must be of the same sort: authentic, merciful; this unique Christian love is our proof that we know God and can "see" the invisible God. [2]

CCC: 1 Jn 4:8 214, 221, 733, 1604; 1 Jn 4:9 458, 516; 1 Jn 4:10 457, 604, 614, 620, 1428; 1 Jn 4:11-12 735; 1 Jn 4:14 457; 1 Jn 4:16 221, 733, 1604
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18.
1 John 5:1-5

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
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Commentary on 1 Jn 5:1-5

The beginning of this chapter from St. John’s first letter provides us with an understanding of Christ and God being of the same essence. “Children of God are identified not only by their love for others (1 John 4:7-9) and for God (1 John 5:1-2) but by their belief in the divine sonship of Jesus Christ. Faith, the acceptance of Jesus in his true character and the obedience in love to God's commands (1 John 5:3), is the source of the Christian's power in the world and conquers the world of evil (1 John 5:4-5), even as Christ overcame the world (John 16:33).” [6]

CCC: 1 Jn 5:1 2780, 2790
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742 GOSPEL


1.
Matthew 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 5:1-12a

This section of the Sermon on the Mount begins the first of five great discourses in St. Matthew’s Gospel. He begins using a formula common in the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament with “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”(Job 5:17; Proverbs 3:13; Sirach 25:8-9) This designation identifies those without material resources, completely dependent upon God. (This distinction is for the devout poor.) The discourse continues blessing those who mourn, who are meek, who “hunger” for righteousness (to adopt the Lord’s law of love in their hearts), the merciful, the clean of heart (those who are reconciled to God), the peacemakers, the persecuted, and finally those who will be reviled because they profess faith in Christ.
 
The litany of praises for those to be blessed by the Lord has an overarching theme. It holds up the spiritual strength of complete dependence on God for life, health, and prosperity. St. Matthew captures the strength in that dependence and God’s promise of salvation through the words of the Savior.
 
It is noteworthy that the word “Blessed” [μακάριοι (makάrios) in Greek and Beati in Latin] is translated “Happy” in many Old Testament texts.  The idea of happiness or peace as a blessing from God is an important understanding about the intent of this discourse.

CCC: Mt 5:1 581; Mt 5:3-12 1716; Mt 5:3 544, 2546; Mt 5-7 2763; Mt 5-6 764; Mt 5:8 1720, 2518; Mt 5:9 2305, 2330; Mt 5:11-12 520 
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2.
Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can It be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lamp stand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father."
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Commentary on Mt 5:13-16

In this selection from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus uses allegory to push the Word of God into the world. He tells his disciples they are an integral part of the faith of the people in God. Like seasoning is to food, so the Word of God is to faith. They must remain steadfast so they do not lose zeal for God, that is the taste of that seasoning. It is that which sets it apart.

He uses a second allegory, light, to provide still more direction. The light of faith will be seen by all because it is reflected in the actions of those who believe. That light serves to guide others to God, where they may otherwise become lost in darkness, and wander into paths of desolation. That light that pours from the disciples will be seen as a gift, not from them, but from the Father, and the Father will be glorified because of the light.

CCC: Mt 5:13-16 782, 2821; Mt 5:14 1243; Mt 5:16 326
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3.
Matthew 7:21-27

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,'
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?'
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
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Commentary on Mt 7:21-27

Jesus is concluding his warning about listening to false prophets in this reading. He tells his followers that because a person claims affiliation with Jesus and has done public acts that testify to their allegiance to him, that does not mean they will be given the promise of the faithful. They will be judged based upon their lived expression of the values of Christ – foundational values.

To emphasize this point the allegory of the person building a house on sand or rock is used. Those who follow Jesus' law of love (“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them”) will be like the wise person who builds upon rock (referring back to Psalm 31). Those who hear his words and do not act on them (faith without actions) are the foolish who build upon sand.

CCC: Mt 7:21-27 1970; Mt 7:21 443, 1821, 2611, 2826
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4.
Matthew 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you. Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
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Commentary on Mt 11:25-30

Jesus has just completed a fairly scathing criticism of the people in the places he has been and performed miracles, yet many have not accepted him as the Messiah. He now concludes this section as he reflects that, while the Scribes and Pharisees (“the wise and learned”) have not understood who he is, those with simple faith have accepted him freely. He then issues an invitation to all who “labor and are burdened” quoting an invitation similar to one in the book of Sirach to learn wisdom and submit to her yoke (Sirach 51:23, 26).

“This Q saying, identical with Luke 10:21-22 except for minor variations, introduces a joyous note into this section, so dominated by the theme of unbelief. While the wise and the learned, the scribes and Pharisees, have rejected Jesus' preaching and the significance of his mighty deeds, the childlike have accepted them. Acceptance depends upon the Father's revelation, but this is granted to those who are open to receive it and refused to the arrogant. Jesus can speak of all mysteries because he is the Son and there is perfect reciprocity of knowledge between him and the Father; what has been handed over to him is revealed only to those whom he wishes.” [9]

The final verses of this section are found only in St. Matthew’s Gospel and promise salvation to those who are downtrodden or in pain.

CCC: Mt 11:25-27 2603, 2779; Mt 11:25-26 2701; Mt 11:25 153, 544, 2785; Mt 11:27 151, 240, 443, 473; Mt 11:28 1658; Mt 11:29-30 1615; Mt 11:29 459
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5.
Matthew 13:44-46

Jesus said to the crowds:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of Joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a peari of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."
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Commentary on Mt 13:44-46

The parable of the buried treasure and the parable of the pearl have the same point. One who understands the Kingdom of Heaven and sees its worth joyfully places obtaining that promise before all else. It is the primacy of Christ’s teaching that guides the disciple in all things. While these two parables have generally the same meaning, it is interesting to note they have some subtle differences. The parable of the hidden treasure which is found by accident refers to an abundance of gifts.  The parable of the pearl sought out through diligence refers to the beauty of the Kingdom of God.

“Anyone who understands the Kingdom which Christ proposes realizes that it is worth staking everything to obtain it […]. The Kingdom of heaven is difficult to win.  No one can be sure of achieving it, but the humble cry of the repentant man can open wide its doors” (St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 180).[6]

CCC: Mt 13:44-45 546
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6.
Matthew 16:24-27

Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay each one according to his conduct."
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Commentary on Mt 16:24-27

This is the second time within the Gospel of St. Matthew the Lord instructs the disciples that if they wish to follow him, they must take up the cross (the first time is in Matthew 10:38). This passage focuses the followers of Christ on the idea that serving the Lord must come before any other purposes in life, since it is through following Jesus that eternal life is gained. The final verse infers that the reward to the faithful is variable, that to some greater honor is given.

CCC: Mt 16:24-26 736; Mt 16:24 226, 618, 2029; Mt 16:25-26 363; Mt 16:25 2232; Mt 16:26 1021
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7.
Matthew 18:1-5

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?"
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me."
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Commentary on Mt 18:1-5

Jesus, in this selection from St. Matthew’s Gospel (also recorded in St. Luke’s Gospel at Luke 9:46-50), summarizes what is known as “church order.” It is called this because, in response to the question: “who will be greatest in the Kingdom of heaven,” Jesus refutes the rank and privilege of the secular world, and indicates that those whose faith is like a small child will find greatness in heaven. The beginning allegory is thought to deal less with the innocence of a child and more with the child’s complete dependence upon its parents. The lesson then drives home the fact that the faithful disciple must be dependent upon God alone.

CCC: Mt 18:3-4 526; Mt 18:3 2785
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8. For Religious
Matthew 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus and tested him, saying,
"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?"
He said in reply,
"Have you not read that from the beginning
the Creator made them male and female and said,
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate."
They said to him,
"Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman
a bill of divorce and dismiss her?"
He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts
Moses allowed you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife
(unless the marriage is unlawful)
and marries another commits adultery."
His disciples said to him,
"If that is the case of a man with his wife,
it is better not to marry."
He answered, "Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."
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Commentary on Mt 19:3-12

This passage from Matthew’s Gospel is foundational to our understanding of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Here we find Jesus challenged by Pharisees (possibly being asked to take sides in an argument but more likely to be tricked). Jesus' comments on the origins of marriage and its sanctity are attacked again using Mosaic Law. Jesus once more goes back to the Father’s intent but does give an out – “unless the marriage is unlawful,” that is, the sacramental bond did not exist from the beginning.

The discourse then switches to one between Jesus and his disciples as they discuss the idea of living the celibate life. Again the Lord tells them that this is not for everyone but “only for those to whom that is granted.” The Gospel links the call to marriage and celibacy; both are gifts from God.


CCC: Mt 19:1-12 2364; Mt 19:3-12 1620; Mt 19:3-9 2382; Mt 19:4 1652; Mt 19:6-12 2053; Mt 19:6 796, 1605, 1614, 1644, 2336, 2380; Mt 19:7-9 2382; Mt 19:8 1610, 1614; Mt 19:10 1615; Mt 19:11 1615; Mt 19:12 922, 1579, 1618
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9.
Matthew 19:27-29

Peter said to Jesus,
"We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life."
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Commentary on Mt 19:27-29

St. Matthew’s Gospel continues the focus on valuing the spiritual life above the material pursuits of earthly existence. The disciples were dismayed at the aestheticism required by the discipline and sacrifice required by Christ. In response to Peter’s expression of this concern, Jesus, in an eschatological discourse, provides a vision of the heavenly kingdom in which those who have faithfully followed the Lord will receive an inestimable reward.

CCC: Mt 19:23-29 2053; Mt 19:23-24 226; Mt 19:26 276, 308, 1058; Mt 19:28 765
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10.
Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them
a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 22:34-40

The story of Jesus delivering the Great Commandment is the fourth of the “Controversy Stories” in St. Matthew’s Gospel (stories in which Jesus argues with the Jewish leadership). The question posed by the “Scholar of the Law” (probably a scribe; see also Luke 10:25-28) “…which commandment in the law is the greatest?” is asked in a rabbinical sense, meaning which of the 613 distinct statutes was considered greatest. Within this body of law, 248 of these precepts were positive and 365 were prohibitions. In addition these precepts were further divided into “Light” and “Heavy”. This was a fairly typical type of exchange for a rabbinical debate.

In answering Jesus quotes two texts of the law that now form the foundation for a new morality in the Gospel. He first quotesDeuteronomy 6:5Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This text forms part of the Shema, the Jewish profession of faith. This first quote would not be surprising. What makes this exchange novel and important is that Jesus adds the quote fromLeviticus 19:18bYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This juxtaposition of quotes makes them equally “Heavy” and there is no parallel In Jewish literature.

CCC: Mat 22:23-34 575; Mat 22:34-36 581; Mat 22:36 2055; Mat 22:37-40 2055; Mat 22:37 2083; Mat 22:40 1824
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11.
Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
'Behold, the bridegroom!
Come out to meet him!'
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
'Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.'
But the wise ones replied,
'No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.'
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!'
But he said in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 25:1-13

St. Matthew’s Gospel gives us the parable of the Ten Virgins continuing the Gospel theme of preparedness and vigilance (although strictly speaking this parable is about foresight). In this story the idea of vigilance is expanded to include being prepared. The Jewish wedding customs of the time would have dictated a procession [at night] from the house of the bride to the house of the groom. The whole act is symbolic of the coming of the messianic era also portrayed as a wedding in Matthew 9:15, Matthew 22:1-14 and John 3:29. The wise virgins brought oil for their lamps while the foolish ones did not. The oil is interpreted by some scholars as referring to good works.

The overarching symbolism is the lamp of faith (light of the indwelling Holy Spirit) being kept burning with oil (good works). Hence, without good works (oil), the lamp will not continue to burn (James 2:17) and the virgins, so deprived of light, are excluded from the heavenly kingdom.

CCC: Mt 25:1-13 672, 796; Mt 25:1 672; Mt 25:6 1618; Mt 25:13 672
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12. Long Form
Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man who was going on a journey called in his servants
and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents;
to another, two; to a third, one-
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents
came forward bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
'Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter,
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.'
His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where 1 did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents comes to us as part of Jesus’ dialogue about being prepared and vigilant. It combines two different but connected logions or morals/teaching points. The first is to use the gifts God has given for the benefit of God, who is represented by the “Master” in the parable. The second is vigilance. This parable, directed at the disciples, exhorts his servants to use the gifts God has given them to the fullest, for the benefit of others (as well as God). It is an exclamation point to Jesus earlier statement: those to whom much is given, even more will be expected” (see also Luke 12:48).

CCC: Mt 25:14-30 546, 1936; Mt 25:21 1029, 1720, 2683; Mt 25:23 1029, 1720
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OR Short Form
Matthew 25:14-23

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man who was going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents;
to another, two; to a third, one-
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
'Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 25:14-23

This shorter form of the Gospel focuses narrowly on the need for the faithful to use the gifts God has given them to the fullest for the benefit of others (as well as God). It is an exclamation point to Jesus earlier statement: “those to whom much is given, even more will be expected.”

CCC: Mt 25:14-30 546, 1936; Mt 25:21 1029, 1720, 2683; Mt 25:23 1029, 1720
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13. For Those Who Work for the Underprivileged
Long Form
Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
1 was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."
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Commentary on Mt 25:31-46

Jesus, in this reading, is telling his disciples and us what will be judged at the end times, the Eschaton. The reading gives us a vision of what will be asked and how judgment will be passed.

This reading provides yet one more example of how Christ intends the Great Commandment to be lived. Loving God and loving neighbor would be judged by; “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” We note that while the general theme is broadly applied to all people, there is special emphasis placed upon the poor and marginalized. The concluding answer expands upon the Hebrew definition in Leviticus (Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18) as St. Matthew defines "neighbor" in a more inclusive sense.

CCC: Mt 25:31-46 544, 1033, 1373, 2447, 2831; Mt 25:31-36 2443; Mt 25:31 331, 671, 679, 1038; Mt 25:32 1038; Mt 25:36 1503; Mt 25:40 678, 1397, 1825, 1932, 2449; Mt 25:41 1034; Mt 25:45 598, 1825, 2463; Mt 25:46 1038
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OR Short Form
Matthew 25:31-40

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for the least brothers of mine you did for me.'"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 25:31-40

This shorter form of the Gospel softens the message by omitting the response of the King to those who ignore the need to show mercy and compassion as Christ teaches. The essential focus remains unchanged- the requirement of the Christian to show compassion and mercy to those in need.

CCC: Mt 25:31-46 544, 1033, 1373, 2447, 2831; Mt 25:31-36 2443; Mt 25:31 331, 671, 679, 1038; Mt 25:32 1038; Mt 25:36 1503; Mt 25:40 678, 1397, 1825, 1932, 2449
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14.
Mark 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you."
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mk 3:31-35

This passage, while affirming our own adoption as brothers and sisters in Christ, does cause some confusion among those who take scripture at face value without understanding the culture of the time.

“In Semitic usage, the terms "brother" and "sister" are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters.”  Because of this, when Mary comes looking for Jesus in this selection, she is, as would be expected, joined by members of the extended family. Jesus extends the family even further though his adoption of those who, as those “seated in the circle” who listen to his word and believe; cf Genesis 14:16; Genesis 29:15; Leviticus 10:4.”[5]
 
Another possible explanation, although it comes from an apocryphal source from the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, is that the Lord’s foster father, St. Joseph, had been previously married (and widowed).  According to “The History of Joseph the Carpenter” from this first marriage,  “[2.]… he begot for himself sons and daughters, four sons, namely, and two daughters. Now these are their names— Judas, Justus, James, and Simon. The names of the two daughters were Assia and Lydia.” These would have been the half-brothers and sisters of the Lord.
 
Because of this, when Mary comes looking for Jesus in this selection, she is, as would be expected, joined by members of the extended family. Jesus extends the family even further though his adoption of those “seated in the circle” who listen to his word and believe, telling those gathered that “…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

CCC: Mk 3:31-35 500
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15. For Teachers
Mark 9:34-37

Jesus' disciples had been discussing among themselves
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
"If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."
Taking a child he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it he said to them,
"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mk 9:34b-37

While the disciples clearly understand the Lord is to leave them, they do not yet grasp the nature of his mission as they are arguing about who among them will be greatest once victory is achieved. The Lord sees this in them, and when they don’t respond to his direct question, he gives them the example of servant leadership. He uses the example of a child so they can understand that it is through humility and innocence that God’s servants lead. Jesus tells them directly that their role (and by extension the role of all Christian disciples) is one of service. He probably uses the example of children to represent the “anawim,” the poor in spirit, the most vulnerable of the Christian faithful.

CCC: Mk 9:37 1825
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16. For Teachers
Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
"Let the children come to me; do not prevent them,
for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it."
Then he embraced them and blessed them,
placing his hands on them.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mk 10:13-16

The image of Jesus portrayed by this passage demonstrates that those who had seen his works and heard his words saw greatness in him. They brought their children to him instinctively, that these little ones might receive the grace bestowed by his touch. This activity made his disciples indignant. They felt that their master should not be pestered by the children. The Lord, however, used this situation as a teaching moment. Jesus told the crowd that only complete dependence upon God’s support would allow them salvation (“…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”).

CCC: Mk 10:11 2380; Mk 10:14 343, 1261; Mk 10:16 699
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17. For Religious
Long Form
Mark 10:17-30*

As Jesus was setting out on a journey,
a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him,
"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments:
You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother."
He replied and said to him,
"Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
"How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
They were exceedingly astonished
and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God."
Peter began to say to him,
"We have given up everything and followed you."
Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands for my sake
and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."
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Commentary on Mk 10:17-30

The story of the rich young man presented today in St. Mark’s Gospel is an ideal teaching moment for Christ. After he has heard that the young man has carefully followed Mosaic Law (summarized in the Decalogue the Lord mentions), Jesus tells the young man he has only one more step to take. Selling all he has and giving the proceeds to the poor is too much for the rich young man who leaves downcast.

Jesus uses this example to emphasize first that love of God must come first and before possessions, before the accumulation of wealth. Those listening were also downhearted and say “Then who can be saved?

Jesus then makes his second point. No one earns salvation from God! Only the Lord alone can grant it and nothing is impossible for Him. “For men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.

Following the exchange with the rich young man and the rest of the crowd, St. Peter brings up the fact that the disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus. The Lord responds telling them they will receive a reward “a hundred times more” and “eternal life”. The last statement “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first” is thought to have been added to reconcile the fact that some called first outlived some early Christians.

CCC: Mk 10:19 1858; Mk 10:22 2728; Mk 10:28-31 1618
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OR Short Form
Mark 10:17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey,
a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him,
"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments:
You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother."
He replied and said to him,
"Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
"How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
They were exceedingly astonished
and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mk 10:17-27

The story of the rich young man presented today in St. Mark’s Gospel is an ideal teaching moment for Christ. After he has heard that the young man has carefully followed Mosaic Law (summarized in the Decalogue the Lord mentions), Jesus tells the young man he has only one more step to take. Selling all he has and giving the proceeds to the poor is too much for the rich young man who leaves downcast.

Jesus uses this example to emphasize first that love of God must come first and before possessions, before the accumulation of wealth. Those listening were also down hearted and say “Then who can be saved?

Jesus then makes his second point. No one earns salvation from God! Only the Lord alone can grant it and nothing is impossible for Him. “For men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.

CCC: Mk 10:19 1858; Mk 10:22 2728
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18.
Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
"To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."
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Commentary on Lk 6:27-38

This passage from St. Luke’s Gospel continues the Sermon on the Plain. In this section, Jesus extends the commandment to love one’s neighbor to include one’s enemy, breaking new ground in the interpretation of Mosaic Law. What follows is an extension of each of the laws governing hospitality and continues by extending even the judicial laws that govern dispute resolution. In the conclusion of this section, the Lord exhorts the disciples to embrace forgiveness, saying “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

CCC: Lk 6:28 1669; Lk 6:31 1789, 1970; Lk 6:36 1458, 2842
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19. For Religious
Luke 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey,
someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him,
"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."
And another said, "1 will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
Jesus said to him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Lk 9:57-62

This passage from St. Luke’s Gospel gives us three sayings of Jesus about the requirement to place the values of Christian discipleship above all other requirements of life. Proclaiming the Kingdom of God must come before even family obligations.

In the first, “Foxes have dens…” Jesus does not deceive anyone – he lives in poverty, dedicated to his mission.

The second, “Let the dead bury their dead,” is a play on words: let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead. Jesus message is the message of life. This saying was never intended to be taken literally as filial piety is deeply ingrained in Jewish life.

In the third saying; “No one who…looks to what was left behind,” Jesus demands more than Elisha (see 1 Kings 19:19-21). “Plowing for the Kingdom demands sacrifice.” [14]

CCC: Lk 9:58 544
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20.
Luke 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
"Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me."
The Lord said to her in reply,
"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
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Commentary on Lk 10:38-42

In this encounter with Martha and Mary in St. Luke’s Gospel, we see two distinct messages. First, we see the importance of the role of women and Jesus’ attitude toward them. Second we see the importance of listening to the word of God: "Mary has chosen the better part."

The selection emphasizes the importance of listening to the teachings of the Lord. While in some early texts the Lord tells Martha there is “need for only a few things,” or of one, the message is clear, Mary, in assuming the role of disciple (listening at the master’s feet) has chosen the correct or better role. Martha, concerning herself with the requirements of hospitality (old law) has chosen the lesser.

“Mystically (St. Gregory the Great, Moralia 2, 6): the two women signify two dimensions of the spiritual life. Martha signifies the active life as she busily labors to honor Christ through her work. Mary exemplifies the contemplative life as she sits attentively to listen and learn from Christ. While both activities are essential to Christian living, the latter is greater than the former. For in heaven the active life terminates, while the contemplative life reaches its perfection.” [5]

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21. For Religious
Luke 12:32-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
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Commentary on Lk 12:32-34

This passage is part of a great compilation of the saying of Jesus in the 12th Chapter. Here the Lord emphasizes the need of true dependence on God alone, a commandment taken to its most extreme by the religious who vow extreme poverty, depending upon God's mercy for subsistence.

CCC: Lk 13:33 557
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22.
Luke 12:35-40

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come."
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Commentary on Lk 12:35-40

The selection presented from St. Luke’s Gospel is one of a series that relates specifically to the Lord’s exhortation about the end times, the eschaton. Here he reminds his disciples that they must be constantly focused on God’s work (servants of the master – the one God). We see also in this brief reading an echo of the Last Supper as the master reclines at table. However, in the broader context, the lesson relates more to faithfulness.

The idea of placing constant faithfulness first (most importantly present) is given as the moral of the Lord’s parable.  Peter questions whether the parable is meant for everyone or just for the disciples he is addressing.  The Lord then clarifies that any who would inherit the Kingdom of God must be constantly faithful to the Lord’s precepts.  He goes on to conclude that no one may know the day or the hour that they will be called to account.  Finally he tells the disciples, who have been given much in their association with the Christ, that to those which much is given, even more is expected, essentially telling them that they must be examples to everyone, even each other.

CCC: Lk 12:35-40 2849
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23. For Religious
Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
"If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.'
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple."
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Commentary on Lk 14:25-33

The Lord, perhaps in an action intended to identify those who had the zeal to be true disciples, tells the crowd of the necessity of total dedication to the call to discipleship. They had seen his recent miracles of healing, and were, no doubt, hoping to learn wisdom from him.

He tells them that they must place their love of God first, before family and even their own lives. He tells them, through two examples – the construction of the tower and the evaluation of the battle – that they must measure the sacrifice needed to be his follower. He punctuates his statement by telling them they must “renounce” all their possessions to follow him.


CCC: Lk 14:26 1618; Lk 14:33 2544
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24.
John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
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Commentary on Jn 15:1-8

This selection begins the discourse on the vine and the branches – really a monologue on the union with Jesus. It is part of Jesus’ farewell speech. The familiar image of the Vineyard and the Vines is used which has imagery in common with Isaiah 5:1-7; Matthew 21:33-46 and as a vine at Psalm 80:9-17; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:2; 17:5-10; 19:10; Hosea 10:1. The identification of the vine as the Son of Man in Psalm 80:15 and Wisdom's description of herself as a vine in Sirach 24:17. This monologue becomes a unifying tie that pulls everything together.

CCC: Jn 15:1-17 1108; Jn 15:1-5 755; Jn 15:1-4 1988; Jn 15:3 517; Jn 15:4-5  787; Jn 15:5 308, 737, 859, 864, 1694, 2074, 2732; Jn 15:7 2615; Jn 15:8 737
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25.
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 1 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."
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Commentary on Jn 15:9-17

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 other places in sacred scripture. It separates them from Moses, Joshua, and David who carried the designation “Servants of the Lord” (see Deuteronomy 34:5, Joshua 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."[1] The clear reference being 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
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26.
John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
"Holy Father, I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And 1 have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and 1 will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them."
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Commentary on Jn 17:20-26

Here is the final part of the “High Priestly Prayer” from the Lord’s final discourse. In this selection we are joined with the disciples as Jesus prays: “…also for those who will believe in me through their word.” Again the theme of unity between the Father, the Son, and his followers is emphasized and brought to a conclusion with: “…that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.

CCC: Jn 17 2604, 2746, 2758; Jn 17:21-23 260, 877; Jn 17:21 820; Jn 17:22 690; Jn 17:23-26 2750; Jn 17:24 2749, 2750, 2750; Jn 17:25 2751; Jn 17:26 589, 729, 2750
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*** Note: The citation for this readings is incorrect in the published index.

[1]Laodicea: ca. forty miles southeast of Philadelphia and ca. eighty miles east of Ephesus, a wealthy industrial and commercial center, with a renowned medical school. It exported fine woolen garments and was famous for its eye salves. It was so wealthy that it was proudly rebuilt without outside aid after the devastating earthquake of A.D. 60/61.
[2] See NAB Footnote on 1 John 4:7-12
[3] Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, © 2010, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. pp.268
[4] See NAB footnote on James 2:14-26
[5] Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, © 2010, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. pp. 129
[6] The Navarre Bible, “Gospels and Acts”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 136
[7] Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, © 2010, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. pp. 334
[8] See NAB Footnote on Ephesians 3:14-19
[9] See NAB footnote on Matthew 11:25ff
[10] See NAB footnote on 1 Corinthians 13:13
[11] Translation from the Jerusalem Bible
[12] WordReference.com
[13] The Navarre Bible: “Joshua-Kings”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2003, pp. 500
[14] See Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, 44:97
[15] The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, © 2004 pp. 30
[16] See NAB footnote on Genesis 12:1-4

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