Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings: September 1, 2013


*"…Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” *

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 22nd 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 Study can be found here, *Catholic Matters *can be found here, the *Catena Aurea *(“Golden Chain”) of St. Thomas Aquinas can be found here, and the Haydock Commentary can be found here.

Please consider supporting those who provide these free resources.

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


*From the *Navarre Bible Commentary.

[The Navarre utilizes the Revised Standard Version rather than the New American Bible upon which the readings as they appear in the Lectionary used in the U.S., which might explain why verses 28 and 29 are rendered different here than we'll hear them on Sunday.]

First Reading - From: Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29


[17] My son, perform your tasks in meekness; then you will be
loved by those whom God accepts.
[18] The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself;
so you will find favour in the sight of the Lord.
[20] For great is the might of the Lord;
he is glorified by the humble.
[28] The affliction of the proud has no healing,
for a plant of wickedness has taken root in him.
[29] The mind of the intelligent man will ponder a parable,
and an attentive ear is the wise man’s desire.

3:1-16:23. Throughout the book each doctrinal passage is followed by a section to do with practical applications, sapiential thoughts on moral conduct, eulogies of virtues and sapiential advice on where to seek things that are truly good, etc. This is the first such section. In it the reader will find an exhortation to prudence in all its various forms.

3:17-29. In line with scholastic custom, the author addresses the reader as a teacher would his pupil: “My son” (v. 17; cf. Prov 1:8; etc.). He is about to deal with a virtue essential for a lover of wisdom – the humility of recognizing one’s shortcomings and being ready to learn from others. At the same time Ben Sirach wrote his work, Greek philosophy and new learning were proving very influential. Some Jews turned their backs on the Law of God and the traditional teaching of Israel, to follow foreign teachers. Reason, in its pride, thought it could find the answer to everything – which made it difficult to accept in all simplicity truths that God put within the reach of those who sincerely sought true wisdom.

Part of the legacy of the Old Testament is the idea that God shows his favour to the humble (Prov. 3:34; Ps 25:14). In the New Testament the Blessed Virgin experiences this, and her joy overflows in the Magnificat. She considers herself the humble handmaid of the Lord, and proclaims that God “has regarded her low estate” (cf. Lk 1:48) and uses her to bring salvation to his people. Very much in line with what Ben Sirach says here, great thinkers such as St Bonaventure have seen that humble devotion is necessary for getting to the truth of things: “Spiritual reading without repentance is not sufficient; nor knowledge without devotion; nor inquiry without the capacity to be surprised; nor prudence without openness to joy; nor any activity devoid of a religious spirit; nor wisdom without charity, intelligence without humility; study without divine grace, or reflection without the wisdom inspired by God” (Itinerarium mentis in Deum, prol., 4).


*From the *Navarre Bible Commentary

From: Hebrews 12:18-24

Striving for Peace; Purity; Reverent Worship (Continuation)
[18] For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, [19] and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken to them.

[22] But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, [23] and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, [24] and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.


18-21. The text recalls in detail all the physical signs which accompanied the manifestation of God on the heights of Sinai (cf. Ex 19:12-16; 20:18), and to these it adds other things taken from Jewish oral tradition.

All this helps to inspire feelings of religious reverence and fear, which explains why the people begged God not to speak further, for they were afraid they would die. To assert his transcendence God forbade anyone to put foot on the mountain (Ex 19:12, 21); this was a way of showing this as yet uncivilized people the difference between the true God and idols.

22-24. The sacred text dramatically contrasts two scenes--that of the establishment of the Covenant on Sinai, and the vision of the heavenly city, the dwelling-place of the angels and saints. The comparison implies a rhetorical question: if the setting of the Old Covenant was so solemn and awesome, and if the Covenant itself was so supernatural and divine, what must not be said of the New Covenant?

We have therefore overwhelming reasons for staying faithful: what awaits us is not an austere and vengeful God but, rather, the joy and splendor of the heavenly city. For the Hebrew people Mount Sinai was the most important symbol of their special connection with God, reminding them that the Almighty was also the Supreme Judge who claimed their exclusive devotion and who abominated idolatry. Similarly, another mountain, Mount Zion, on which the Temple was built, represented God's protective presence in the midst of his people. Both mountains, Sinai and Zion, prefigured the mountain from which the Messiah-King would reign and towards which all peoples would flock to worship the true God (cf. Ps 2:6; Is 2:2).

The vision which Judaism, on the basis of Scripture, had elaborated of heaven as the "new Jerusalem" is now extended: not only is it the holy mountain, the source of the light and glory of Yahweh (cf. Is 8:18; 28:16; 60: 1-11; Ps 50:2; 74:2; Joel 3: 17), the city of peace (cf. Is 33:20); it is the city where the angels and saints dwell and rejoice, the demesne of the living God and of Jesus--the heavenly and everlasting Jerusalem, which is also illustrated in the Book of Revelation (cf. Rev 21:15-17; 22:1-5).

Concluded on the next post...


The text once more recalls the Exodus (cf. Heb 3:16-18; 4:1-2; 9:18-20; 10:19-22). Christians are making their way to heaven, their lasting homeland, their true place of rest, just as the ancient Israelites made their way out of Egypt and crossed the desert to reach the land promised to their forefathers.

However, despite this parallel there are differences: the Old Covenant, although it did include expressions and promises of joy and jubilation, was set in an atmosphere of religious fear and trembling; whereas the New Covenant is full of joy and exultation, although in the midst of suffering.

"It is a question ...] of the glorious and supernatural joy, prophesied for the new Jerusalem redeemed from the exile and loved with a mystical love by God himself ...]. Through the course of many centuries and in the midst of most terrible trials, these promises wonderfully sustained the mystical hope of ancient Israel. And it is ancient Israel that transmitted them to the Church of Jesus Christ, in such a way that we are indebted to ancient Israel for some of the purest expressions of our hymn of joy. And yet, according to faith and the Christian experience of the Holy Spirit, this peace which is given by God and which spreads out like an overflowing torrent when the time of 'consolation' comes, is linked to the coming and presence of Christ" (Paul VI, "Gaudete In Domino", 2-3).

  1. The mention of Zion recalls the other mountain on which the Covenant was made (Sinai), as also the many prophetical texts which proclaimed that the Messiah's reign would begin on Zion, his holy mountain (cf. Ps 2:6; Is 2:2-4:25:6; Zech 14:4). Thus, Mount Zion, the city of the living God, and the heavenly Jerusalem all mean the Church in triumph in heaven.

St Thomas emphasizes that part of eternal happiness in heaven consists in the vision of the heavenly assembly: "for in the glory of heaven there are two things which most cause the blessed to rejoice: enjoyment of the Godhead and the fellowship of the saints" ("Commentary on Heb., ad loc.").

"Proceeding from the love of the eternal Father (cf. Tit 3:4), the Church was founded by Christ in time and gathered into one by the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 1:3, 5, 6, 13-14, 23). It has a saving and eschatological purpose which can be fully attained only in the next life. But it is now present here on earth and is composed of men; they, the members of the earthly city, are called to form the family of the children of God in this present history of mankind and to increase it continually until the Lord comes" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 40).

  1. "The assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven": the blessed, including the righteous of the Old Testament, the Apostles and all Christians who have attained the beatific vision. They are called first-born because, as in the case of the Patriarchs, they were the first to have faith; because, as in the case of the Apostles, it wasnthey who received Christ's call initially, to pass it on to others; and, finally, because, as in the case of faithful Christians, they were chosen by God from among the pagans (cf. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:20; Col 1:18; Rev 1:S; 14:4). Their names are written in heaven (cf. Lk 10:20; Rev 2:17; 3:5; 13:8; 17:8).

  2. As Incarnate Word and High Priest, Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (cf. Heb 8:6; 9:15; 1 Tim 2:5; cf. Heb 2:17; 13:1; 7:25). The letter focuses for a moment on the most significant point in the alliance--the shedding of our Lord's blood, which ratifies the Covenant and cleanses mankind (cf. Ex 24:8; Heb 9:12-14, 20; 10:19, 28-29; 13:20; 1 Pet 1:2). This blood "speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel", "for the shedding of Christ's blood was represented figuratively by the shedding of the blood of all the just there have been since the beginning of the world ...]. Therefore, the spilling of Abel's blood was a sign of this new spilling of blood. But the blood of Christ is more eloquent than that of Abel, because Abel's called for vengeance whereas the blood of Christ claims forgiveness" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary On Heb., ad loc."). The confidence the blood of Christ gives us makes us feel happy to be sinners who, repentant, take refuge in his wounds.

"Sinners, says the Epistle, you are fortunate indeed, for after you sin you have recourse to the crucified Jesus, who shed all his blood so that he might stand as mediator to make peace between God and sinners, and win you forgiveness from him. If your evildoing shouts against you, the Redeemer's blood cries aloud in your favor, and divine justice cannot but listen to what this blood says" (St Alphonsus, "The Love of Jesus Christ Reduced to Practice", 3).


*From the *Navarre Bible Commentary

Gospel Reading - From: Luke 14:1, 7-14**

[1] One Sabbath when He (Jesus) went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching Him.
A Lesson About Humility
[7] Now He told a parable to those who were invited, when He marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, [8] "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; [9] and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give place to this man' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. [10] But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. [11] For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Attitude to the Poor

[12] He (Jesus) said to the man who had invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. [13] But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

11. Humility is necessary for salvation that Jesus takes every opportunity to stress its importance. Here He uses the attitudes of people at banquet to remind us again that it is God who assigns the places at the Heavenly banquet. "Together with humility, the realization of the greatness of man's dignity--and of the overwhelming fact that, by grace, we are made children of God--forms a single attitude. It is not our own efforts that save us and gives us life; it is the grace of God. This is a truth which must never be forgotten" (St. J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 133).

  1. A Christian acts in the world in the same way anyone else does; but his dealings with his colleagues and others should not be based on pursuit of reward or vainglory: the first thing he should seek is God's glory, desiring Heaven as his only reward (cf. Luke 6:32-34).


More helpful resources for this Sunday's Readings:

The Sacred Page

Ignatius Insight

The Word Among Us

Free Republic Catholic Caucus


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