Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings: September 15, 2013


#1

But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’

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 24th 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!

http://atheisttochristian.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/prodigalson.jpg


#2

Nice website. Lots of good links. Thanks!


#3

*From the Navarre Bible Commentary

First Reading: From: Exodus 32:7-14*

The Lord’s Ire
-------------

[7] And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; [8] they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'These are your gods, 0 Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”’ [9] And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; [10] now therefore let me atone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I willmake a great nation.”

Moses’ Prayer for Israel
------------------------

[11] But Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, “0 Lord, why does thy wrath burn hot against thy people, whom thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? [12] Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them forth, to stay them in.the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. [13] Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou didst swear by thine own self, and didst say to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” [14] And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.


Commentary:*

32:7-14. The Lord’s dialogue with Moses contains the doctrinal bases of salvation history–Covenant, sin, mercy. Only the Lord knows just how serious this sin is: by adoring the golden calf the people have taken the wrong road and have vitiated the whole meaning of the Exodus; but most of all, they have rebelled against God and turned their backs on him, breaking the Covenant (cf. Deut 9:7-14). God no longer calls them my people" (cf lbs 2:8) but “your people” (Moses’) (v. 7). That is, he shows him that they have acted like anyone else, guided by human leaders.

The punishment that the sin deserves is their destruction (v. 10), for this is a stiff-necked nation (cf. 33:3; 34:9; Deut 9:13). The sin deserves death, as the first sin did (Gen 3:19) and the sin which gave rise to the flood (cf. Gen 6:6-7). However, mercy always prevails over the offense.

As Abraham did in another time on behalf of Sodom (Gen 18:22-23), Moses intercedes with the Lord. But this time intercession proves successful, because Israel is the people that God has made his own; he chose it, bringing it out of Egypt in a mighty way; so. he cannot turn back now; in fact, he chose it ever since he swore his oath to Abraham (cf. Gen 15:5; 22:16-17; 35:11-12). He established the Covenant with Israel, as Moses reminds him when he refers to “thy people, whom thou has brought forth out of the land of Egypt” (v. 11). Thus, promise, election and Covenant form the foundation which guarantees that God’s forgiveness will be forthcoming, even if they commit the gravest of sins.

God forgives his people (v. 14) not because they deserve to be forgiven, but out of pure mercy and moved by Moses’ intercession. Thus God’s forgiveness and the people’s conversion are, both of them, a divine initiative.

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.


#4

*From the Navarre Bible Commentary

Second Reading - From: 1 Timothy 1:12-17*

Paul Recalls His Own Conversion
-------------------------------

[12] I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, [13] though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, [14] and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. [15] The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save. And I am the foremost of sinners; [16] but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. [17] To the king of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Commentary:

12-13. This clearly autobiographical passage, which shows the Apostle's humility (cf., e.g., 1 Cor 15:9-10), is evidence of the letter's Pauline authorship: it is difficult to believe that a later disciple would have dared to call St Paul a "blasphemer", "persecutor" or "insulter" or made him describe himself as "the foremost of sinners".

St Paul's conversion is an example of a miracle of grace; only by the mercy of God could he have been changed and become the Apostle of the Gentiles and such a faithful minister of the Gospel. This change which grace worked in Paul can also help all who approach the Church to have great confidence in God's mercy and forgiveness; like a good father, God is always ready to receive the repentant sinner.

The sacred text shows quite clearly that the initiative lies with God when it comes to calling people to Church office. The call to the priesthood is a grace from God; it is God who makes the choice and then he gives the person he has chosen the strength to fulfill his office worthily. In this connection Bishop Alvaro del Portillo has written: "Christian priesthood is not, then, in the line of ethical relationships among men nor on the level of a merely human attempt to approach God: it is a gift from God and it is irreversibly located on the vertical line of the search for man by his Creator and Sanctifier and on the sacramental line of the gratuitous opening up to man of God's intimate life. In other words, Christian priesthood is essentially (this is the only possible way it can be understood) an
eminently sacred mission, both in its origin (Christ) and in its content (the divine mystery) and by the very manner in which it is conferred--a sacrament" ("On Priesthood", pp. 59f).

Concluded below...


#5
  1. "In Christ Jesus": this expression is being used with a special technical meaning: it refers to the position of the new man who, after the "washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Tit 3:5) which takes place at Baptism, is now united to Christ, made a Christian. At Baptism the mercy of God not only justifies the sinner but causes him to share profoundly in God's own life by means of grace, faith and love. These three gifts are a sign that the Christian has truly been built into the body of Christ (cf. 2 Tim 1:13).

  2. "The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance": or, more literally, "Word of honor, which you can totally rely on". This form of words is used a number of times in the Pastoral Epistles to focus attention on some important doctrinal point (cf. 1 Tim 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim 2:11; Tit 3-8).

The point being emphasized here is that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners". The Apostle has condensed into very few words God's plan for the redemption of mankind, which he will go on to say more about later (cf. 1 Tim 2:3-7; Tit 2:11-14; 3:3-7). "The mercy of God is infinite," says St Francis of Assisi, "and, according to the Gospel, even if our sins were infinite, his mercy is yet greater than our sins. And the Apostle St Paul has said that Christ the blessed came into the world to save sinners" ("The Little Flowers of St Francis", chap. 26).

This is in fact one of the basic truths of faith and appears in the Creed: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven". He came to save us from the only evil, that which can separate us from God--sin.

By his victory over sin Christ gave men and women the honor of being sons and daughters of God; this new character and status equips them to light up the world around them with the brightness of their Christian lives (cf. Phil 2:15). They can have this effect on others if they really commit themselves to have the same mind as "was in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5), for "it is impossible to live according to the heart of Jesus Christ and not to know that we are sent, as he was, 'to save all sinners' (1 Tim 1:15), with the clear realization that we ourselves need to trust in the mercy of God more and more every day. As a result, we will foster in ourselves a vehement desire to be co-redeemers with Christ, to save all souls with him" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 121).

  1. This section (vv. 12-17) closes with a solemn doxology. Similar exclamatory passages in praise of God appear elsewhere in the Apostle's writings (Rom 2:36; 16:27; Phil 4:20; etc.). This was probably an early formula used in the liturgy of Ephesus and other Asia Minor churches. The fact that it ends with an "Amen" seems to confirm this. In contrast to the energetic attempts of the civil authorities at the time to foster emperor-worship, Christians proclaimed that God is lord of the universe and will reign forever.

It is true, of course, that because God's glory is infinite, it cannot be enhanced by man extolling God's attributes. However, once one knows the greatness of God, creator and ruler of the universe, and knows that all things are dependent on him, one has a duty to show God due honor both internally and externally. Actions of that kind are expressions of the virtue of religion, whose "actions are directly and immediately ordered to the honor of God" ("Summa Theologiae" II-II, q. 81, a. 61). "Of all the duties which man has to fulfill that, without doubt, is the chiefest and holiest whic h commands him to worship God with devotion and piety. This follows of necessity from the truth that we are ever in the power of God, are ever guided by his will and providence, and, having come forth from him, must return to him" (Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum", 25).

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.


#6

*From the Navarre Bible Commentary

Gospel Reading (Shorter Form) - From: Luke 15:1-10*

Parable's of God's Mercy
------------------------

[1] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him (Jesus). [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

The Lost Sheep
--------------

[3] So He told them this parable: [4] "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? [5] And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. [6] And when he comes home he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' [7] Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Lost Coin
-------------

[8] "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she lost one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? [9] And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I has lost.' [10] Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.


Commentary:*

1-32. Jesus' actions manifest God's mercy: He receives sinners in order to convert them. The scribes and Pharisees, who despised sinners, just cannot understand why Jesus acts like this; they grumble about Him; and Jesus uses the opportunity to tell these Mercy parables. "The Gospel writer who particularly treats of these themes in Christ's teaching is Luke, whose Gospel has earned the title of `the Gospel of mercy'" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 3).

Concluded below...


#7

In this chapter St. Luke reports three of these parables in which Jesus describes the infinite, fatherly mercy of God and His joy at the conversion of the sinner.

The Gospel teaches that no one is excluded from forgiveness and that sinners can become beloved children of God if they repent and are converted. So much does God desire the conversion of sinners that each of these parables ends with a refrain, as it were, telling of the great joy in Heaven over sinner who repents.

1-2. This is not the first time that publicans and sinners approach Jesus (cf. Matthew 9:10). They are attracted by the directness of the Lord's preaching and by His call to self-giving and love. The Pharisees in general were jealous of His influence over the people (cf. Matthew 26:2-5; John 11:47) a jealousy which can also beset Christians; a severity of outlook which does not accept that, no matter how great his sins may have been, a sinner can change and become a saint; a blindness which prevents a person from recognizing and rejoicing over the good done by others. Our Lord criticized this attitude when He replied to His disciples' complaints about others casting out devils in His name: "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to speak evil of Me" (Mark 9:39). And St. Paul rejoiced that others proclaimed Christ and even overlooked the fact they did so out of self-interest, provided Christ was preached (cf. Philippians 1:17-18).

5-6. Christian tradition, on the basis of this and other Gospel passages (cf. John 10:11), applies this parable to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who misses and then seeks out the lost sheep: the Word, by becoming man, seeks out mankind, which has strayed through sinning. Here is St. Gregory the Great's commentary: "He put the sheep on His shoulders because, on taking on human nature, He burdened Himself with our sins" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", II, 14).

The Second Vatican Council applies these verses of St. Luke to the way priests should approach their pastoral work: "They should be mindful that by their daily conduct and solicitude they display the reality of a truly priestly and pastoral ministry both to believers and unbelievers alike, to Catholics and non-Catholics; that they are bound to bear witness before all men of the truth and of the life, and as good shepherds seek after those too who, whilst having been baptized in the Catholic Church, have given up the practice of the Sacraments, or even fallen away from the faith" ("Lumen Gentium", 28). However, every member of the faithful should show this same kind of concern—expressed in a fraternal way--towards his brothers and sisters, towards everyone on the road to sanctification and salvation.

  1. This does not mean that our Lord does not value the perseverance of the just: He is simply emphasizing the joy of God and the saints over the conversion of a sinner. This is clearly a call to repentance, to never doubt God's readiness to forgive. "Another fall, and what a fall!... Must you give up hope? No. Humble yourself and, through Mary, your Mother, have recourse to the merciful Love of Jesus. A "miserere", and lift up your heart! And now begin again" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 711).

8. This silver coin was a "drachma", of about the same value as a denarius, that is, approximately a day's wage for an agricultural worker (cf. Matthew 20:2).

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.


#8

*From the Navarre Bible Commentary

Gospel Reading* (Longer Form) - From: Luke 15:11-32
**
Parables of God's Mercy (cont.)
------------------------**
[11] "There was a man who had two sons; [12] and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. [13] Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. [14] And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. [15] So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. [17] But when he came to himself he said,How can many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.'" [20] And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. [21] And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' [22] But the father said to his servants,Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; [23] and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; [24] for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.

[25] "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. [27] And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.' [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, [29] but he answered his father,Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. [30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!' [31] And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"

Continued below...


#9

*


Commentary:*

1-32. Jesus' actions manifest God's mercy: He receives sinners in order to convert them. The scribes and Pharisees, who despised sinners, just cannot understand why Jesus acts like this; they grumble about Him; and Jesus uses the opportunity to tell these Mercy parables. "The Gospel writer who particularly treats of these themes in Christ's teaching is Luke, whose Gospel has earned the title of `the Gospel of mercy'" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 3).

In this chapter St. Luke reports three of these parables in which Jesus describes the infinite, fatherly mercy of God and His joy at the conversion of the sinner.

The Gospel teaches that no one is excluded from forgiveness and that sinners can become beloved children of God if they repent and are converted. So much does God desire the conversion of sinners that each of these parables ends with a refrain, as it were, telling of the great joy in Heaven over a sinner who repents.

  1. This is one of Jesus' most beautiful parables, which teaches us once more that God is a kind and understanding Father (cf. Matthew 6:8; Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3). The son who asks for his part of the inheritance is a symbol of the person who cuts himself off from God through sin. "Although the word `mercy' does not appear, this parablenevertheless expresses the essence of the divine mercy in a particularly clear way" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 5).

  2. "That son, who receives from the father the portion of the inheritance that is due him and leaves home to squander it in a far country `in loose living', in a certain sense is the man of every period, beginning with the one who was the first to lose the inheritance of grace and original justice. The analogy at this point is very wide-ranging. The parable indirectly touches upon every breach of the covenant of love, every loss of grace, every sin" ("Dives In Misericordia", 5).

14-15. At this point in the parable we are shown the unhappy effects of sin. The young man's hunger evokes the anxiety and emptiness a person feels when he is far from God. The prodigal son's predicament describes the enslavement which sin involves (cf. Romans 1:25; 6:6; Galatians 5:1): by sinning one loses the freedom of the children of God (cf. Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:31; 5:13) and hands oneself over the power of Satan.

17-21. His memory of home and his conviction that his father loves him cause the prodigal son to reflect and to decide to set out on the right road. "Human life is in some way a constant returning to our Father's house. We return through contrition, through the conversion of heart which means a desire to change, a firm decision to improve our life and which, therefore, is expressed in sacrifice and self-giving. We return to our Father's house by means of that sacrament of pardon in which, by confessing our sins, we put on Jesus Christ again and become His brothers, members of God's family" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ is Passing By", 64).

Concluded below...


#10

20-24. God always hopes for the return of the sinner; He wants him to repent. When the young man arrives home his father does not greet him with reproaches but with immense compassion, which causes him to embrace his son and cover him with kisses.

  1. "There is no doubt that in this simple but penetrating analogy the figure of the father reveals to us God as Father. The conduct of the father in the parable and his whole behavior, which manifests his internal attitude, enables us to rediscover the individual threads of the Old Testament vision of mercy in a synthesis which is totally new, full of simplicity and depth. The father of the prodigal son is FAITHFUL TO THIS FATHERHOOD, FAITHFUL TO THE LOVE that he had always lavished on his son. This fidelity is expressed in the parable not only by his immediate readiness to welcome him home when he returns after having squandered his inheritance; it is expressed even more fully by that joy, that merrymaking for the squanderer after his return, merrymaking which is so generous that it provokes the opposition and hatred of the elder brother, who had never gone far away from his father and had never abandoned the home.

“The father’s fidelity to himself …] is at the same time expressed in a manner particularly charged with affection. We read, in fact, that when the father saw the prodigal son returning home `he had COMPASSION, ran to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.’ He certainly does this under the influence of a deep affection, and this also explains his generosity towards his son, that generosity which so angers the elder son” (“Dives In Misericordia”, 6).

"When God runs towards us, we cannot keep silent, but with St. Paul we exclaim, “ABBA PATER”: `Father, my Father!’ (Romans 8:15), for, though He is the creator of the universe, He doesn’t mind our not using high-sounding titles, nor worry about our not acknowledging His greatness. He wants us to call Him Father; He wants us to savor that word, our souls filling with joy …].

“God is waiting for us, like the father in the parable, with open arms, even though we don’t deserve it. It doesn’t matter how great our debt is. Just like the prodigal son, all we have to do is open our heart, to be homesick for our Father’s house, to wonder at and rejoice in the gift which God makes us of being able to call ourselves His children, of really being His children, even though our response to Him has been so poor” ([St] J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 64).

25-30. God’s mercy is so great that man cannot grasp it: as we can see in the case of the elder son, who thinks his father loves the younger son excessively, his jealousy prevents him from understanding how his father can do so much to celebrate the recovery of the prodigal; it cuts him off from the joy that the whole family feels. “It’s true that he was a sinner. But don’t pass so final a judgment on him. Have pity in your heart, and don’t forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity” ([St] J. Escriva, “The Way”, 675).

We should also consider that if God has compassion towards sinners, He must have much much more towards those who strive to be faithful to Him. St. Therese of Lisieux understood this very well: “What joy to remember that our Lord is just; that He makes allowances for all our shortcomings, and knows full well how weak we are. What have I to fear then? Surely the God of infinite justice who pardons the prodigal son with such mercy will be just with me `who am always with Him’?” (“The Story of a Soul”, Chapter 8).

  1. “Mercy, as Christ has presented it in the parable of the prodigal son, has THE INTERIOR FORM OF THE LOVE that in the New Testament is called AGAPE. This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and restored to value'. The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy, that he has beenfound again’ and that he has `returned to life’. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father’s son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself” (“Dives In Misericordia”, 6).

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.


#11

More great resources on today's Mass Readings:

Ignatius Insight

The Sacred Page

Msgr. Charles Pope


The Word Among Us
(only up until 12 midnight EST)

Free Republic Catholic Caucus


#12

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