Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings: August 18, 2013


#1

"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!"

To help us prepare for this coming Sunday, here are the readings, studies and reflections for this coming Sunday's Scripture readings. This Sunday is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Here
are the Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

My own weekly study on the Sunday Readings can be found here at my website.

Here are three short audio reflections on the readings by Sister Ann Shields, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Fr. Robert Barron.

Scripture scholar Fr. Francis Martin's video meditations on the Sunday Scripture readings can be found here.

Further study resources for the Readings: St. Charles Borromeo Bible Stud*y can be found here, *Catholic Matters can be found here, and the Haydock Commentary *can be found here. The link to the *Catena Aurea ("Golden Chain") of St. Thomas Aquinas is currently not working and will be added later if it becomes available.

Please consider supporting those who provide these free resources.

Discussion, questions and charitable comments are always welcome. Have a blessed week!

http://imagecache.allposters.com/images/pic/CLI/17431~Sacred-Heart-of-Jesus-Posters.jpg


#2

I like your site, and hope to visit it often. Thanks for publishing it.

I've long enjoyed reading Jeremiah, and feel a particular affinity with him. I see myself sharing many of his qualities. I would like to have known him.


#3

[quote="Fidelis, post:1, topic:336533"]
"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!"
.......
Further study resources for the Readings: *St. Charles Borromeo Bible Stud*y can be found here,.....

[/quote]

I found Tertullian's commentary from the St, Charles Borromeo site very interesting, (Bolding mine.) “We have, indeed, a second font, one with the former: namely,** that of blood*, of which the Lord says: ‘There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,’ when He had already been baptized. For he had come through water and blood (1 John 5:6), as John wrote, so that He might be baptized with water and glorified with blood. He sent out these* two baptisms from the wound in His pierced side*, that we might in like manner be called by water and chosen by blood, and so that they who believed in His blood might be washed in the water. If they might be washed in water, they must necessarily be so by blood (see Matthew 22:14). **This is the baptism which replaces that of the fountain, when it has not been received*, and restores it when it has been lost.” [Tertullian (A.D. 200-206), Baptism 16,1] It had never occurred to me to link Our Lord's words to Baptism of blood. I find Tertullian's words a little unclear, so I'm not sure if Baptism by Blood is what he is referring to - specially since I don't understand how the reference to Mt. 22:14 would connect with it.

(Mt. 22:13-14 "Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen.")


#4

The Reading from Jeremiah is indeed an interesting one, since it obviously requires a lot of context to know exactly what’s going on here. I’m looking forward to digging a little deeper on this one. Thanks for the feedback! :slight_smile:


#5

[quote="Nita, post:3, topic:336533"]
I found Tertullian's commentary from the St, Charles Borromeo site very interesting, (Bolding mine.) “We have, indeed, a second font, one with the former: namely,** that of blood*, of which the Lord says: ‘There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,’ when He had already been baptized. For he had come through water and blood (1 John 5:6), as John wrote, so that He might be baptized with water and glorified with blood. He sent out these* two baptisms from the wound in His pierced side*, that we might in like manner be called by water and chosen by blood, and so that they who believed in His blood might be washed in the water. If they might be washed in water, they must necessarily be so by blood (see Matthew 22:14). **This is the baptism which replaces that of the fountain, when it has not been received*, and restores it when it has been lost.” [Tertullian (A.D. 200-206), Baptism 16,1] It had never occurred to me to link Our Lord's words to Baptism of blood. I find Tertullian's words a little unclear, so I'm not sure if Baptism by Blood is what he is referring to - specially since I don't understand how the reference to Mt. 22:14 would connect with it.

(Mt. 22:13-14 "Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen.")

[/quote]

Interesting quote and, like much from the ECF's, pretty dense.

I think the key to what Tertullian is trying to put forth here is contained in the passage: **"...so that they who believed in His blood might be washed in the water. If they might be washed in water, they must necessarily be so by blood (see Matthew 22:14). **He appears to be saying that water baptism is ALSO baptism in Christ's blood--that the power of baptism necessarily comes from the shed blood of Christ.

In the remainder of that passage: "...This is the baptism which replaces that of the fountain, when it has not been received, and restores it when it has been lost”, this is where he may be referring to Baptism by Blood and the Sacrament of Reconciliation-- that is, even when there are no waters of Baptism, salvation can still be found in the power of Christ's blood.

How does that sound?


#6

That sounds very good. It was Tertullian’s “…so that they who believed in His blood might be washed in the water. If they might be washed in water, they must necessarily be so by blood (see Matthew 22:14)” that made me question whether he was speaking of what we generally refer to as baptism by blood. Your explanation that in this chapter he is relating how Jesus’ blood is involved in both forms of Baptism answered the question for me. Thanks.

As to the Matthew reference, I still don’t see a connection. I looked up Tertullian’s treatise “On Baptism” ( newadvent.org/fathers/0321.htm ) and noticed the Matthew reference is not included in this version. Perhaps it was a typo on the Borromeo link (Direct link to this Sunday’s lesson: scborromeo.org/biblestu/c_ot_20.pdf ).


#7

[quote="Nita, post:6, topic:336533"]

As to the Matthew reference, I still don't see a connection. I looked up Tertullian's treatise "On Baptism" ( newadvent.org/fathers/0321.htm ) and noticed the Matthew reference is not included in this version. Perhaps it was a typo on the Borromeo link (Direct link to this Sunday's lesson: scborromeo.org/biblestu/c_ot_20.pdf ).

[/quote]

Matthew 22:14: "For many are called, but few are chosen."

That may be true, since I can't think of a connection either, even if I engage in some major stretching. :)


#8

**From the Navarre Bible Commentary

From: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Jeremiah’s and the cistern of Malchiah
-------------------------------------------------------**

[4] Then the princes said to the king, “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” [5] King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your hands; for the king can do nothing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire.

[8] Ebed-melech went from the king’s house and said to the king, [9] “My Lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern; and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.” [10] Then the king commanded Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian, ”Take three men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”


Commentary:*

38:1-28. Like the previous chapter, this one also contains an account concerning Jeremiah’s arrest (vv. 1-13) and a conversation that he had with the king (vv. 14-28). Jeremiah keeps on urging submission to Babylon and personal conversion; the princes, or nobles, will hear none of this. Wary, perhaps, about putting an envoy of God to death, they put him into a big water-tank, from which he is rescued by a court official, a foreigner. Having escaped in this way, the prophet manages to stay in the hall of the court guard without anyone observing him, it seems (v. 13). One ecclesiastical writer, Olympiodorus, interpreted Jeremiah’s imprisonment as a prefigurement of Jesus’ passion and death. Commenting on v. 6, he said: “The prophet becomes a figure of the mystery of Christ, who was handed over by Pilate to the Jews, descended into hell, and was raised from the dead. Jeremiah climbs out of the cistern he was cast into; Scripture often refers to hell as a cistern” (Fragmenta in Jeremiam, 38, 6).

In his conversation with the king, Jeremiah re-affirms his message (vv. 17-18); Zedekiah is afraid of what will happen if he surrenders (v. 19), but the prophet tells him he should trust in the Lord. If he fails to do so, his humiliation will be great; even the women will despise him (v. 22). Zedekiah will be stuck in the mire (v. 22) – and will suffer more than Jeremiah has suffered (v. 6).

Without saying why, the king asks the prophet not to reveal his prophecy (vv. 24-26); and so Jeremiah keeps quiet a about it when the princes interrogate him about his interview with the king (v. 27). The prophet’s response does not mean that he is deceiving them (they had no right to be party to Jeremiah’s conversation with the king) or that he fears them; we know that his courage was never in question.

These verses show how very different in attitude Zedekiah and Jeremiah were. Zedekiah used all his ingenuity and political skill to save himself and Judah from their enemies; but he lost both life and land. Jeremiah, however, preached the word of God without diluting it in any way – even though people clamoured for his death (v. 4); and when the Babylonians won the day, he was released from prison and survived (v. 28). It is very much what Jesus taught: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:25).

Most of this passage forms a reading in the Divine Office for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the response to that reading is a call to serve the Lord, no matter what trials that involves. It links some words from Judith 8:23 (Vg) with others from St Paul to do with predicaments he encountered that were similar to the prophet’s: “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments (2 Cor 6:4-5a).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


#9

**Navarre Bible Commentary

Second Reading - From: Hebrews 12:1-4

The Example of Christ
---------------------**
[1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted. [4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.


Commentary:*

1-3. After recalling the exemplary faith and fidelity of the righteous of the Old Testament, a moral lesson is now drawn: Christians should be no less faithful--particularly since they have as a model not only patriarchs, kings and prophets but also Christ Jesus himself, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith", in other words, he is the perfect example of obedience, of faithfulness to his mission, of union with the Father, and of endurance in suffering.

Christ is depicted as the strong, generous athlete who runs a good race (cf. 1 Cor 9:24; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 2:6), who starts and finishes well, who does not flag and who wins the race. A Christian should live in the same way (cf. Gal 2:2; Phil 2:16; 5:7). It is as if we were listening again to what St Paul says in Philippians 2:5-9: "Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus." Christ's example helps us to overcome contempt and it reminds us that we should not be surprised to meet up with humiliation and hostility rather than success and rejoicing (cf. Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40). "Cross, toil, anguish: such will be your lot as long as you live. That was the way Christ went, and the disciple is not above his Master" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 699).

Continued...


#10
  1. This verse contains three remarkable expressions which stress the need to be faithful in spite of difficulties. The first is the "cloud of witnesses", a reference to the multitude of holy people in the course of the history of Israel who stayed faithful to God (cf. 11:2, 4, 5, 39); they are a cloud, a huge number filling the sky. In classical literature one often finds an army advancing in battle array being compared with a storm forming in the sky. Also, the image of the cloud suggests that these witnesses are high up, near the sun, a sign of their spiritual stature.

They are "witnesses", that is, active spectators of the combat in which Christians are involved. This evokes the idea of spectators at the Games who follow the events from the stands, applauding, shouting and gesticulating.

"Sin which clings so closely": one interpretation of the original is "sin which watches us closely, like an enemy, to see where he can attack us". It is the same kind of idea as occurs in 1 Pet 5:8, where it says that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and as in Gen 4:7 where God describes sin as couching at the door (like a hungry wild animal ready to pounce). The verb used to describe sin indicates it is something which surrounds one on all sides (cf. RSV) and can easily get a foothold and is persistent. "We may have here an allusion to occasions of sin, to the fact that sin is present all around us, that is, in the world, in the flesh, in our neighbor and in the devil" (St Thomas, "Commentary on Heb.", ad loc.). Sin is also a "weight" which hinders our movements and reduces our agility; there may also be a reference here to being overweight. The athlete needs to shed any surplus weight and keep to a strict training schedule involving many small renunciations (cf. 1 Cor 9:25). His only hope of success in the Games depends on this.

Finally, Christians are invited to "run with perseverance". Theirs is not a short race but a long test which calls for endurance and an ability to cope with pain and fatigue. "Just as in a race and in combat we need to shed everything that cramps our movements, the same happens in the struggle of tribulation. 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,' St Paul says (2 Tim 4:7). So, he who wants to run well towards God in the midst of tribulation should shed all useless weight. The Apostle describes this encumbrance as 'weight, and sin which clings so closely'. This weight is the sins we have committed, which pull the soul downwards and incline it to sin again" ("Commentary on Heb, ad loc.").

Essentially, the verse emphasizes the need for detachment if one is to win in the struggle of life: "Anything that does not lead to God is a hindrance. Root it out and throw it far from you" (St J. Escriva, "The Way", 189).

  1. The Christian should fix his gaze on Jesus, in the same way as a runner, once the race has begun, lets nothing distract him from his determination to reach his goal.

"If you want to be saved," St Thomas writes, "look at the face of your Christ. He is the pioneer of our faith, in two senses. He teaches it through his preaching and he also impresses it on our heart. In two senses also is he the perfecter of our faith: he consigns faith by his miracles and it is he who gives faith its reward" ("Commentary on Heb, ad loc.").

Christ is the "pioneer" of our faith in the sense that he has marked out the path Christians should take. He is the captain and guide of all the faithful, the champion who takes the lead and opens the way, setting the pace. The reference evokes what Hebrews 6:20 says about Jesus being our "forerunner".

Continued...


#11

Christ is the “pioneer” of our faith, the cause of our faith; it is he that we first believe in and, as author of grace, it is he who infuses this virtue into our souls. The title of “pioneer”, initiator, may also indicate that Christ is for the Christian–and for the universe–beginning and end, alpha and omega (cf. Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:13). In the same line, Jesus is also the “perfecter” of our faith, for it is he who will lead us to perfection in faith and will transform it into the perfection of glory. He will crown his work in us (cf. St Augustine, “Letter 194”, 5), for if we believe it is because he has moved us to faith, and if we are glorified it will be because he has helped us to stay true to the end.

Everything Christ did in his life is a perfect example for us to follow particularly the way he underwent his passion. “In the passion of Christ there are three things to consider: in the first place what he gave up, then what he suffered, and thirdly what he merited. As far as the first is concerned, (Hebrews) speaks of his leaving ‘the joy that was set before him’, that is, joy or happiness here on earth, as when the crowd sought him out to make him king and he fled to the mountain despising that honor …]. Then describing the happiness of eternal life as his reward, he ‘endured the cross’: that is the second thing, namely, that he suffered the cross. ‘He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8). In this the terrible severity of his suffering is manifested, for he was nailed to the cross by his hands and feet, and the opprobrium of this death, for it was an ignominous death …]. The third thing, that is, what he merited, is being seated at the right hand of the Father. Thus, the exaltation of Christ’s human nature was the reward for his passion” (“Commentary on Heb, ad loc.”).

Christ is the pioneer of our faith by his death on the Cross, and its perfecter by his glorification. Only those who share in Christ’s sufferings will be raised up like him in glory (cf. Rom 6:8). The Christian life begins in Christ and finds its climax in him.

To bring about our redemption any form of suffering would have sufficed; but such was our Lord’s love for us that he accepted the ignominy of death on a cross.

Concluded on the next post…


#12

"By now they have fastened Jesus to the wooden cross. The executioners have ruthlessly carried out the sentence. Our Lord, with infinite meekness, has let them have their way.

"It was not necessary for him to undergo so much torment. He could have avoided those trials, those humiliations, that ill-usage, that iniquitous judgment, and the shame of the gallows, and the nails and the lance.... But he wanted to suffer all this for you and for me. And we, are we not going to respond?

"Very likely there will be times, when alone in front of a crucifix, you find tears coming to your eyes. Don't try to hold them back.... But try to ensure that those tears give rise to a resolution" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way of the Cross", XI, 1). .

  1. "What does Christ teach you from the height of the Cross, from which he chose not to come down, but that you should arm yourself with valor against those who revile you, and be strong with the strength of God?" (St Augustine, "Enarrationes in Psalmos", 70, 1). The difficulties Jesus had to contend with were quite exceptional: Jews and Gentiles opposed him; he suffered every kind of humiliation, to the extreme of his passion and death; but what pained him most was the hardheartedness, spiritual blindness and impenitence of those who had come to save. The "sinners" who proved "hostile" to Jesus are not only Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate, etc. but also those who continue to sin despite his redemptive sacrifice. Yet our Lord bore all this patiently and exhibited to a supreme degree the virtues and qualities he asks of his disciples.

In Christ, and in Christians, weakness becomes strength, humiliation and glory. "(Jesus) dies nailed to the Cross. But if at the same time in this weakness there is accomplished his "lifting up", confirmed by the power of the Resurrection, then this means that the weaknesses of all human sufferings are capable of being infused with the same power of God manifested in Christ's Cross" (John Paul II, "Salvifici Doloris", 23).

The sacred text seeks to inspire the faithful with hope and strength by suggesting that they contemplate Christ's sufferings. That in fact has led many Christians to turn over a new leaf. St Teresa of Avila describes how it changed her: "By this time my soul was growing weary, and, though it desired to rest, the miserable habits which now enslaved it would not allow it to do so. It happened that, entering the oratory one day, I saw an image which had been procured for a certain festival that was observed in the house and had been taken there to be kept for that purpose. It represented Christ sorely wounded; and so conducive was it to devotion that when I looked at it I was deeply moved to see him thus, so well did it picture what he suffered for us. So great was my distress when I thought how ill I had repaid him for those wounds that I felt as if my heart were breaking, and I threw myself down beside him, shedding floods of tears and begging him to give me strength once for all so that I might not offend him" ("Life", IX, 1).

4-13. Following Christ's example, Christians should struggle to avoid sin; they should put up with tribulation and persecution because if such adversity arises it means that the Lord permits it for our good. The letter's tone of encouragement seems to change here to one of reproach. It is as if the writer were saying, "Christ gave his life for your sins, contending even to the point of dying for you; how is it that you do not put up with suffering, out of love for him? It is true that you are being persecuted: God is disciplining you as a Father disciplines his children. But you are children of God and therefore your attitude should be one of abandonment to his will even when it seems hard. That is the way a Father brings up his children."

The main point is that the only important thing is fidelity to God, and that the sin of apostasy is the greatest of all misfortunes. "Don't forget, my son, that for you on earth there is but one evil, which you must fear and avoid with the grace of God: sin" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 386).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


#13

**From the Navarre Bible Commentary

Gospel Reading - From: Luke 12:49-53

Jesus the Cause of Dissension
-----------------------------**
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [49] "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! [50] I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! [51] Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; [52] for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; [53] they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."


Commentary:*

49-50. In the Bible, fire is often used to describe God's burning love for men. This divine love finds its highest expression in the Son of God become man: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (John 3:16). Jesus voluntarily gave up His life out of love for us, and "greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life
for his friends" (John 15:13).

In these words reported by St. Luke, Jesus Christ reveals His abounding desire to give His life for love of us. He calls His death a baptism, because from it He will arise victorious never to die again. Our Baptism is a submersion in Christ's death, in which we die to sin and are reborn to the new life of grace: "We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

Through this new life, we Christians should become set on fire in the same way as Jesus set His disciples on fire: "With the amazing naturalness of the things of God, the contemplative soul is filled with apostolic zeal. My heart became hot within me, a fire blazed forth from my thoughts' (Psalm 38:4). What could this fire be if not the fire that Christ talks about:I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled' (Luke 12:49). An apostolic fire that acquires its strength in prayer: there is no better way than this to carry on, throughout the whole world, the battle of peace to which every Christian is called to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Colossians 1:24)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 120).

51-53. God has come into the world with a message of peace (cf. Luke 2:14) and reconciliation (cf. Romans 5:11). By resisting, through sin, the redeeming work of Christ, we become His opponents. Injustice and error lead to division and war. "Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until the coming of Christ; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 78).

During His own life on earth, Christ was a sign of contradiction (cf. Luke 2:34). Our Lord is forewarning His disciples about the contention and division which will accompany the spread of the Gospel (cf. Luke 6:20-23; Matthew 10:24).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


#14

Links to more good resources on the Sunday Readings:

Msgr. Charles Pope

The Sacred Page

The Word Among Us


Free Republic Catholic Caucus


#15

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.