sundaysBreaking the Word Sundays
Sundays in March and April 2018
Robert Draper

The readings for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, which the Church presents in the Lectionary, offer a rich selection of Scripture and with it, a chance to reflect on some of the central themes of our Christian faith. Over the next two months we move from the penitential season of Lent, when the Church accompanies those preparing for baptism, into the great Easter season. Our weekly Sunday readings lead us through a time of preparation and reflection so that we may participate fully in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord  -  the Paschal Mystery  -  which lies at the heart of Christian faith.

The Lent readings for the year of Mark offer us passages from the Old Testament each week, which invite a reflection on the whole biblical concept of covenant, which will help us to prepare to celebrate the new and eternal covenant promised by Jeremiah (week 5) which is realised in the sacrificial blood of Jesus (Passion Sunday/Good Friday).

The following short reflections are offered to help give a setting to the various Scripture texts, to show how they articulate some of the great themes of Christian faith and to offer some implications for the living out of that faith. Robert Draper is a parish priest in Dorset and a Vicar General of the Diocese of Plymouth.

Sunday 4 March
Third Sunday of Lent
Exodus 20.1-17
Psalm 18
1Corinthians 1.22-25
John 2.13-25

In many ways the Exodus was the defining reality of Israel's relationship with God. The Law which was given through Moses on the mountain followed the liberation from Egypt: it was subsequent to God's saving action. Hence when we are given what we call the Ten Commandments, they are prefaced by a reminder:  -  'I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery'. The Law is given and able to be received because of what God has already done. It is worth pondering this as Christians so that we can we view all the teaching of the gospel as the call for an appropriate response on our part to what God has already done in Jesus Christ. The focus throughout Lent is the Paschal Mystery to be celebrated in the great Triduum, what God has already done  -  the act of redemption  -  and so Christian discipleship is not about seeking to achieve salvation, but responding to salvation already given in Christ.

The short reading from Paul today is a stark reminder of just how radical and challenging the means of that salvation is. The Passion and crucifixion of the Lord is, in the eyes of the world, a sign of total failure. By insisting that this is the work of God and that it is the very means of overcoming all that is negative and limited in human experience, Paul and with him the whole Christian tradition, challenge all human structures and assumptions based on worldly success and human reason. It is sometimes difficult to appreciate just how dramatic a different view of seeing things the gospel really is.

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Breaking the Word - Sundays

In the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of Vatican II decreed that: ‘The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word’. (SC.52) The lavish feast of Sacred Scripture at the celebration of the Eucharist is designed to nourish and inspire the faithful. The following reflections on the Sunday readings for the next two months are an attempt to help readers and listeners to both savour and  ponder the selected passages so as to be drawn ever closer to the source of that nourishment. The author is a parish priest in Dorset and Vicar General of the Diocese of Plymouth.