Promises, covenant, conduct, instructions,
and show help focus these readings
upon interior dispositions resulting in exterior conduct. The trick here is avoiding confusing human
with divine power and direction. One way
of discernment is by juxtaposing truth and politics or power in the matter of
fraternal correction. How to Make
Friends and Influence People by
verse 14b … I will fulfill the promise
The purpose of keeping the law is not to amass rewards but to find mercy and kindness. A scholar words it, “The steps from embracing the Law as foundational to elitist arrogance and merit-mongering have to do with endemic human weaknesses that make themselves in all religious traditions, in Christianity no less than in Judaism.”
verse 15 In those days, in that time,
will raise up for
He shall do what is right and just in the land.
The verse looks through Advent to Christmas and the Messiah,
as part of the covenant. A scholar observes that this “shoot is from the stump of
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Up to this point these Notes have systematically used
Psalm 25 is a carefully crafted Hebrew alphabetical Acrostic Psalm.
The Lectionary uses this Psalm at four Sunday liturgies.
Readings Page in Verses used
3C 14 4-5, 8-9, 10, 14 (16) The readings for today.
23B 149 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (cf. 10) First Sunday of Lent
68B 523 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (4a) Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
136A 855 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (6a) Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Funerals also uses this Psalm:
Page Section Verses used
224 Responsorial Psalms 13 Funerals for Adults #2 6, 17-18, 20 (16 or cf. #2 and 20)
254 Responsorial Psalms 14 Funerals for Baptized Children 4-6, 20-21 (16)
262 Gospel Readings 15 Funerals for Children who Died before Baptism 4-6, 17 (16 or cf. 2 and 20)
268 Antiphons and Psalms 16 Antiphons and Psalms 1-22 (cf. 18 or ?)
verses 4-5 Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior
and for you I wait all the day.
Kraus writes that this post-exilic psalmsinger is a sinner begging God to help him change his ways. The response from God is to the community, rather to the individual. God will guide the Church.
verse 8 Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
God is favoring sinners, showing sinners the way. The chief sinner in this instance is the psalmsinger and, by extension, the community.
verse 9 He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
Kraus uses a different word for humble, namely oppressed. “He lets the oppressed come into judgment and teaches his way to the oppressed.” In a racist-sexist society, oppressed carries a different connotation from humble.
verse 10 All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
verse 14 The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him
and his covenant, for their instruction.
A scholar points out that the reason to keep the covenant is mercy and kindness. Kraus writes, “For those who fear Yahweh, God is a living reality. They look for the self-disclosure of God and are always alert to receive him.” One might examine one’s conscience in thanksgiving for the self-disclosure of God in the beauty of nature, of people, and of oneself. Failing to find such beauty might then become a cause for penitential sorrow.
Kraus goes on, in Psalm 25:10 and 14 Deuteronomic theology uses covenant and commands (testimonies) synonymously. The covenant involves community, racist and sexist as community may be. Kraus writes, “It is beyond doubt that the concept *** (hesed) involves a community relationship and expresses the element of loyalty to community, as is shown with especial clarity by the combination *** (`steadfast love and faithfulness,’ Psalm 25:10; 40:11; 61:7; 89:14; 138:2 etc.).”
Looking for self-disclosure of God in beauty, such an approach to the spiritual life, reminds me of an officemate, who, with a twinkle in his eye, used to encourage me to thank God daily for giving both of us another day in which to excel. In the academic world, I earned a generous livelihood offering fraternal correction in the matter of institutional racism. The high and the haughty were never too glad to see me coming, but they did give me enough room in which to flourish. God bless them.
Fraternal correction is based on the ability to recognize ugliness and to oppose ugliness. In the matter of truth versus politics within a context of racism or sexism, orderliness and beauty apparently reside in the status quo. Standing up to misguided but established authority is rarely, if ever, beautiful at the time of objection, even objection made with a loving heart, kindness, and, if possible, without embarrassment.
verse 10 All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
The Vulgate (circa 410): CAPH. Universae
Douay-Rheims (1582-1610): All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth
New American (1970): All the paths of the LORD are faithful love
New Jerusalem (1985): Kindness unfailing and constancy mark all Yahweh’s paths
Truth, love, and constancy intertwine the translations. Identifying truth with love is helpful for contemporary Christian living. Truth is not only for the scholar, but is also for the lover. While love is blind, that blindness is selective. Love includes grounding in reality, namely truth.
verse 14 The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant for their instruction.
Kraus offers, “Yahweh’s counsel (comes) to those who fear him, and his covenant (becomes known), to teach them.” The translation by Kraus offers a greater role for the Faithful than that by the Lectionary. Molding society, whether secular or sacred, to love is an appropriate function for all of the Faithful in all of their many ways.
1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2
verse 4:1-2 Finally, brothers and sisters,
earnestly ask and exhort you in the
as you received from us
how you should conduct yourselves to please God
—and as you are conducting yourselves—
you do so even more.
you know what instructions we gave
you through the
Here is a development for the First Covenant into the New Covenant with a new focus on interior disposition over exterior behavior. Both interior and exterior are present in both covenants, but the emphasis is different in each.
verse 8 Show us, Lord your love;
and grant us your salvation.
verse 27a And then they will see the Son of Man
The Vulgate (circa 410): Et tunc videbunt Filium hominis
Douay-Rheims (1582-1610): And then they will see the Son of Man
New American (1970): And then they will see the Son of Man
New Jerusalem (1985): And then they will see the Son of man
Why Man is capitalized in some translations and not in others is a mystery.
verse 28 But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
The grammarian observes that the evangelist describes a slave lifting his head from his chest, because God is redeeming the slave from slavery. The primary slavery the Church has in mind is slavery to sin. If discerning slavery is difficult, so is sin and the human history of both.
Some of the Fathers of the Church have proved not to be very
good historians. Let this historian
explain what they really mean. By Jews,
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon . . . Here is a linked chain of prophecy, and the reason for the mystery why the Jews, already twice led captive, to Babylon and to Syria, will again be captive in all the world: because they have denied Christ; and why Jerusalem, as was later seen, was to be laid waste by an invading host, and her people fall by the edge of the sword; and why all that was Judea was to be vanquished by the believing nations, by the sword of the spirit, which is the two-edged word of God.
. . . perceiving in this that nothing is exempt from the divine commandments, and that all the elements serve through the world of God for our instruction, so that by the very turns of the earth itself, as by the four Gospels, we learn both that which we are to proclaim and what we are to do.
Advent is a time of penance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah into the hearts of the Faithful. The readings invite the Faithful to reflect upon their own behavior as part of the direction the covenant gives to history. Jeremiah the prophet implicitly reminds the Faithful to listen to things about their conduct they may not want to hear because the Messiah is on his way and the promise of His coming is all that matters. The psalmsinger, aware of his own sinfulness, includes the Faithful in not despairing, but in placing hope and trust in the covenant. Thessalonians is about receiving instructions on how to live in love with one another as an aspect of the promises. The Gospel connects the Son of Man with the cosmos, the sun, the moon, and the stars serving God by instructing about Divine purposes in history.
For more on sources, besides the footnotes, see the Appendix file.
 Since I
do not read Hebrew and my computer does not write Hebrew, *** represents Hebrew
letters in the following text. Hans-Joachim