Saturday, June 2, 2018

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Catechism Links [*]
CCC 345-349, 582, 2168-2173: The Lord’s Day
CCC 1005-1014, 1470, 1681-1683: Dying and living in Christ


“Disciples Eating Grain” by Andrew Bida, 1874
Readings for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time [1]

(Note: in the history of this Apostolate (est. 2006) this celebration has always been superseded in the United States.)


Readings and Commentary: [3]

First Reading:

Thus says the LORD:
"Take care to keep holy the sabbath day
as the LORD, your God, commanded you.
Six days you may labor and do all your work;
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then, whether by you, or your son or
daughter,
or your male or female slave,
or your ox or ass or any of your beasts,
or the alien who lives with you.
Your male and female slave should rest as you do.
For remember that you too were once a slave in Egypt,
and the LORD, your God, brought you from there
with his strong hand and outstretched arm.
That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you
to observe the sabbath day."
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Commentary on Dt 5:12-15

This passage establishes the sabbath day as a day dedicated to God and to rest. It differs from Exodus 31:16-17 which focuses on God’s completion of creation. In this case it is clear that while the day is to be set aside for God, it is to be reserved as a day of rest, a commemoration of the bondage and slavery experienced in Egypt.

CCC: Dt 5:12-15 2167; Dt 5:12 2189; Dt 5:15 2057, 2170
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Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 81:3-4, 5-6, 6-8, 10-11

R. (2a) Sing with joy to God our help.

Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel,
the pleasant harp and the lyre.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our solemn feast.
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

For it is a statute in Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob,
who made it a decree for Joseph
when he came forth from the land of Egypt.
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

An unfamiliar speech I hear:
"I relieved his shoulder of the burden;
his hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you."
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

"There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt."
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
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Commentary on Ps 81:3-4, 5-6, 6-8, 10-11

Psalm 81 is a prophetic liturgy generally associated with the Feast of Tabernacles. Here David rejoices in God’s mercy, freeing his people from constant toil, giving them rest from their labors through the Mosaic Covenant. It reinforces that covenant reminding the people they have One True God who is their salvation.

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Second Reading:
2 Corinthians 4:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
God who said, Let light shine out of darkness,
has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.
But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
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Commentary on 
2 Cor 4:6-11

St. Paul begins this selection paraphrasing 
Genesis 1:3. The Apostle views conversion of the faithful as a new beginning, a light shining in the darkness. “The transformation we experience in Chris thus parallels the transformation effected by the word of God when he first dispelled the darkness with light at the dawn of history. This was already hinted at by Isaiah, who developed the theme of light’s victory over darkness as a sign of salvation (Isaiah 9:249:660:1-3). Paul experienced this first hand when the blinding light of Christ knocked him to the ground on the Damascus road (Acts 9:326;13) (CCC 2583)” [4]

The Apostle continues explaining the paradoxical nature of ministry in Christ. Our immortal souls, transformed in Christ contained within perishable bodies. The earthly body (earthen vessels) may be destroyed but the glorified body is imperishable.

CCC: 2 Cor 4:6 
298, 2583; 2 Cor 4:7 1420
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Gospel:
Mark 2:23-3:6

A Longer Form

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of
grain.

At this the Pharisees said to him,
"Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
He said to them, "Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering
that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?"
Then he said to them,

"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."
Again he entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched him closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us."
Then he said to them,
"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent.

Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out
and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him
to put him to death.
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Commentary on Mk 2:23-3:6

[2:23-28] In this passage from St. Mark’s Gospel the Lord has another conflict with the Pharisees over laws they have implemented. In this case the laws are about doing no work on the Sabbath. The disciples of Jesus were hungry and as a result gathered and ate grain on the Sabbath. Strictly speaking this was labor (Leviticus 24:9) and that is what the Pharisees were objecting to.

Jesus responded by reminding them (the Pharisees) about a story form the first book of Samuel (1 Samuel 21:2-7) in which restrictions not included in Mosaic Law but established by men were relaxed at need. The example can be seen as a link between Jesus’ own genealogy (coming from the line of David) and the mission as Savior, the Anointed One, the Messiah. It also teaches a more pragmatic lesson about the Sabbath being created for man and not as the rules of Pharisaic law had restricted it.

[3:1-6] The man with the withered hand is used to trap Jesus into doing something that by Pharisaic Law was considered “labor”. Jesus tries to show them the flaw in their logic with a question; “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they will not respond because the answer is obvious. With his opponents reduced to silence, the cures the man (see also John 5:17-18). Their attempt foiled, they run to the minions of King Herod to continue their plotting.

CCC: Mk 2:23-27 581; Mk 2:23-26 544; Mk 2:25-27 582; Mk 2:27-28 2167; Mk 2:27 2173; Mk 2:28 2173; Mk 3:1-6 574; Mk 3:4 2173; Mk 3:5-6 1859; Mk 3:5 591; Mk 3:6 574, 591
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OR B Shorter Form


As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of
grain.

At this the Pharisees said to him,
"Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
He said to them, "Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering
that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?"
Then he said to them,
"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."
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Commentary on Mk 2:23-28

In this passage from St. Mark’s Gospel the Lord has another conflict with the Pharisees over laws they have implemented. In this case the laws are about doing no work on the Sabbath. The disciples of Jesus were hungry and as a result gathered and ate grain on the Sabbath. Strictly speaking this was labor (Leviticus 24:9) and that is what the Pharisees were objecting to.

Jesus responded by reminding them (the Pharisees) about a story form the first book of Samuel (1 Samuel 21:2-7) in which restrictions not included in Mosaic Law but established by men were relaxed at need. The example can be seen as a link between Jesus’ own genealogy (coming from the line of David) and the mission as Savior, the Anointed One, the Messiah. It also teaches a more pragmatic lesson about the Sabbath being created for man and not as the rules of Pharisaic law had restricted it.

CCC: Mk 2:23-27 581; Mk 2:23-26 544; Mk 2:25-27 582; Mk 2:27-28 2167; Mk 2:27 2173; Mk 2:28 2173
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Reflection:

Those of us who have been around for a while will remember that on Sundays after you went to Mass, there was not much to do but be with family.  Fifty years ago, in the United States at least, all commercial establishments, restaurants and stores were closed on Sunday in honor of the Sabbath.  Today, it is unusual to see stores closed on Sunday.  It is ironic that even giant chains like Meijers make a point of showing they hold Christian values by closing on Christmas Day, as if that was a badge of some sort.

We cannot, however, point a finger at the greedy capitalists.  Those stores and restaurants would not be open if vast numbers of us did not frequent them on religious holidays.  They stay open for us.  It shows how far we have come from the day where the Sabbath was observed as the Lord’s Day.

Sacred scripture reminds us that it was a command of God that set the seventh day (or the first day as we now count it) as a day dedicated to the Lord’s gift of creation.  We are reminded of this in the first reading from Deuteronomy.  It is to be a great sign of remembrance.  Recalling that all we have, all we are, and all that is was created by our Heavenly Father.  It is his food we eat and air we breathe.  We are asked to give him thanks by more than just lip service.

In the Hebrew tradition, this law was kept scrupulously.  The rules about keeping the sabbath were strict, even burdensome.  Any form of work was prohibited.  This was carried to the ridiculous by the Sadducees who are seen being critical of Jesus’ disciples in the Gospel.  They viewed the simple act of plucking raw grain, eaten on the spot, as work and chastised Jesus for allowing such a flagrant (in their eyes) violation of the laws regarding work on the Sabbath.

We are reminded once more in this Gospel story of why God found it necessary to send his Only Begotten Son. The Lord once more is forced to show those who would follow the Father, what the loving Father wanted for his children.  His first response clearly lays out God’s intent: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” God wants peace for his Children; peace that comes from knowing that their loving creator has given them good things and wishes them to reside in his peace by remembering all that was placed before them.  He does not wish this remembrance to become a burden.

We as parents know that sometimes when you give your children an inch, they try to take a mile.  It is the same with us when we interpret Jesus’ relaxing the sabbath rules for his disciples as meaning we don’t have to keep the sabbath at all.  That is not where scripture leads us.  We as a community of faith have an obligation to remember why the sabbath was set aside and keep it in our homes and families.

This is not an easy thing to do in our day and age.  It may even require some sacrifices (like skipping Soccer (football) games so the family can worship together.  It is a mark of our faith that we follow the Lord and give the Heavenly Father the reverence he deserves.

Pax



[*] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014
[1] The picture used is “Disciples Eating Grain” by Andrew Bida, 1874
[3] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[4] Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, © 2010, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. p.317

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