JESUS OF NAZARETH

St Bonaventure once wrote that the fruit of holy scripture is not simply any kind of fruit. In scripture, he said, are the words of eternal life. The fruit of holy scripture is the fullness of eternal happiness. This is the end and this is the intention with which holy scripture should be studied, taught and even heard. Understanding the whole of scripture flows as from its source, from the knowledge of Jesus Christ, a source attributable to divine revelation which flows from the 'father of lights'.

In our own time, Pope Benedict XVI, in the post-synodal exhortation on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, expressed a “hope for the flowering of “a  new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus” (n.72). In the foreword to his book Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict wrote that while it is good to ask what the respective authors of the Bible intended to convey through their text in their own day (the historical components), it is not sufficient to leave the text in the past and "thus relegate it to history". Good explanations and interpretations will pose the questions: Is what I read here true? Does it concern me? If so, how? Finding answers to these questions does not diminish the historical quest, on the contrary, it is enhanced, the Pope wrote. It is his hope that this approach to rediscovering the word of God can be a help to many people on their path toward and alongside Jesus. Pope Benedict writes that in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples:"Who do people say that I am?....Who do you say that I am?" (Mk 8:27). Pope Benedict asks, "Who is Jesus? Where is he from? The two questions, he proposes, are inseparably linked.

The four Gospels set out to answer these questions, they were written in order to supply an answer, Pope Benedict explained. While Matthew and Luke provide different genealogies at the beginning of their Gospels, John does not. In St John's Prologue, "he grandly and emphatically proposes an answer to that question". "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.....and the Word became flesh and dwelt (pitched his tent) among us" (Jn 1:1-14). "The man Jesus is the dwelling place of the Word, the eternal divine Word, in this world. Jesus' "flesh", his human existence, is the "dwelling" or "tent" of the Word: the reference to the sacred tent of Israel in the wilderness is unmistakable", the Pope wrote. "Jesus is, so to speak, the tent of meeting." (Ch. 1 Jesus of Nazareth, the Infancy Narratives). "Jesus' origin is the true "beginning" - the primordial source from which all things come, the "light" that makes the world into the cosmos. He comes from God. He is God. This "beginning" that has come to us opens up - as a beginning - a new manner of human existence, "For to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God" (Jn 1:12). John sums up the deepest meaning of the genealogies, and moreover he has taught us to understand them as an interpretation of our own origin, our true "genealogy", - our true "genealogy" is faith in Jesus, who gives us a new origin, who brings us to birth "from God"". 

To each and every one belongs the task of rediscovery, to answer the question "Who do you say that I am?" and in so doing we discover who we are.

What an extraordinary journey. The journey of faith.

THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS

St Matthew

The Gospel according to St Matthew is divided into five books each consisting of a discourse introduced and led up to by selected narrative matter; these five books, plus the stories of the Infancy and of the Passion are combined to form a well-knit whole of seven sections. Matthew used his sources with great freedom in order to reach his carefully mapped out ensemble which is so brilliantly adapted for teaching purposes. Matthew's plan is completely different to Mark. The fact that this gospel also reports Christ's teaching much more fully than Mark, and stresses specially the theme of 'the Kingdom of heaven' (4:17+), makes it a dramatic account in seven acts of the coming of the kingdom of heaven. (Copyright © Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, Jerusalem Bible, 1966).

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St Mark

The plan Mark follows in the Gospel according to St Mark is the least systematic of all the Synoptics. The preaching of John the Baptist plus the baptism and temptation of Jesus make up his prelude (1:1-13); next comes a period of ministry which according to occasional hints was in Galilee (1:1-7:23), then a journey by Jesus and his apostles to the district of Tyre and Sidon, the Decapolis, the neighbourhood of Caesarea Phillipi and back to Galilee (7:24-9:50); then lastly the final journey through Peraea and Jericho to Jerusalem where the Passion and resurrection take place (10:1-16:8). (Copyright © Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, Jerusalem Bible, 1966).

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St Luke

St Luke set to work in his own way with an eye to exact information and orderly narrative (1:3), but respect for his sources, together with his method of juxtaposing them, meant that even Luke was not in a position to arrange his traditional material in a more chronological way than Matthew or Mark. His plan follows Mark's outline though some episodes are displaced (3:19-20; 4:16-30; 5:1-11; 6:12-19; 22:31-34, etc.). This he did sometimes in the interests of clarity and logical sequence, sometimes under the influence of other streams of tradition including, it should be noted, a tradition traceable to the St John's Gospel. (Copyright © Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, Jerusalem Bible, 1966).

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ST JOHN'S GOSPEL

In the Gospel according to St John, the last verse before the Appendix specifies the book's literary form. It is a 'gospel' - it proclaims that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God. There are some features however that mark it off sharply from the Synoptics. In the first instance, its author seems to have been influenced to a considerable extent by ideas current in certain sections of Judaism: the emphasis on knowledge, contrasting pairs 'light-darkness', 'truth-lies', 'angel of light-angel of darkness' etc with a particular stress laid both on the need for unity and the necessity for mutual love. All these ideas which recur in St John's Gospel are characteristic of the Judeao-Christian milieu in which St John's Gospel must have originated.

In the second instance St John is more concerned than the Synoptics to bring out the events of Christ's life and of all that he did and said. The things Christ did were 'signs'; their meaning, hidden at first, could be fully understood only after his glorification, 2:22; 12:16; 13:7. (Copyright © Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, Jerusalem Bible, 1966).

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St John

St John's Gospel is a 'gospel', just as the preaching of the earlier Church was a 'gospel'; it proclaims that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God, and its teaching, based on the 'signs' that Jesus gave, aims at bringing men to believe in the Messiah and so to attain life. The fourth gospel, therefore is spite of all the clues to its late composition, is not unrelated to the most primitive Christian 'kerygma', or message, e.g. the Holy Spirit descends, as the Baptist testifies, to point out Jesus as Messiah, 1:31-34; Christ's 'glory' is manifested in his work and word, 1:35-12:50; his death, resurrection and subsequent apparitions are described, 13:1-20:20; the apostles are sent out with the gift of the Spirit and the power to forgive sins, 20:21-29. (Copyright © Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, Jerusalem Bible, 1966).

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Sunday Mass Readings

One of the best ways to rediscover the Word of God is through the Sunday Mass readings over the three-year liturgical cycle.

Readings from Scripture are part of every Mass. On Sundays there are three readings, one always from the Gospels. These make up the Liturgy of the Word. In addition, a psalm or canticle is sung.

These readings are read from a Lectionary, not a Bible, though the Lectionary is taken from the Bible.The Sunday cycle is divided into three years, labeled A, B, and C. 2017 was Year A, 2018 is Year B, 2019 is Year C, etc.

In Year A, we read mostly from the Gospel of Matthew. In Year B, we read the Gospel of Mark and chapter 6 of the Gospel of John. In Year C, we read the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel of John is read during the Easter season in all three years. The first reading, usually from the Old Testament, reflects important themes from the Gospel reading. The second reading is usually from one of the epistles, a letter written to an early church community. These letters are read semi-continuously. Each Sunday, we pick up close to where we left off the Sunday before, though some passages are never read.

The year of the cycle does not change on January 1, but on the First Sunday of Advent (usually late November) which is the beginning of the liturgical year.

Join us on this journey of rediscovery by following the Sunday Mass Readings for a three-year period with preparation and follow up for personal renewal, spiritual growth, living our lives "according to the Spirit".

As part of this project, An Clochar will be posting audio and written reflections and homilies for the Sunday Mass readings.

For 2017 - 2018 we are in Year B.