Mixed metaphors characterize these readings.  One metaphor is that of the bride, namely the Faithful, whom Jesus marries.[1]  The bride as the Faithful is the greatest gift the Father gives Jesus.  In this metaphor, there is some sort of equality between Jesus as groom and the Faithful as bride.

 

The other metaphor is one of subservience as either sheep to shepherd or slave to master.  Psychologically, subservience includes unfulfilled wishes that invite defense mechanisms such as anxiety, neurosis, and other pathologies.  Subservience also includes protection against those very pathologies of unfulfilled wishes.  Patrons and mentors protect those in their care.

 

The outcome of the mixed metaphors of equality and subservience is well expressed in the glory of the Cross.  The readings point to eternal life as the fulfillment of every unfulfilled wish.  To be with Jesus is the overwhelming satisfaction of the life of grace with God.

 

Acts 13:14, 43-52 (This reading is a mistake; it belongs with Easter 51C, next week)

These readings are about serious unfulfilled wishes for the People of God, the Jews.  What Paul and Barnabas wish for the Jews results in persecution.  Without invoking defense mechanism, realizing and accepting what has happened, Paul and Barnabas turn to us, the Gentiles.

 

Verse 45

Lectionary (1998):                        jealousy … with violent abuse

The Vulgate (circa 410):               zelo … blasphemantes

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        envy … blaspheming         

King James (1611):                      envy … blaspheming

Jerusalem (1966):                        jealousy … blasphemies

New American (1970):                 jealousy … with violent abuse

New Jerusalem (1985):                jealousy … blasphemies

 

Envy and jealousy can be mixed up with misplaced zeal.  The point is that some very good people can make mistakes.  The further point is—to be with Jesus is the overwhelming satisfaction of the life of grace with God.  The psalm continues with joyful celebration.

 


Psalm 100: 1-2, 3, 5 (This reading is a mistake; it belongs with Easter 51C, next week)

The Lectionary uses this Psalm as follows.

 

Readings      Page in

                     Lectionary     Verses used

                    

51C                399             1-2, 3, 5                                       (3c)          Today

91A                 634-5          1-2, 3, 5                                       (3c)          Ordinary 11

19                 1079                2, 3, 5                                       (3c)          Common Texts

 

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock” means to be with Jesus is the overwhelming satisfaction of the life of grace with God.

Verse 5

Lectionary (1998):                        faithfulness

The Vulgate (circa 410):               veritas

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        truth (Psalm 99)

King James (1611):                      truth

Jerusalem (1966):                        faithfulness

New American (1970):                 faithfulness

New Jerusalem (1985):                faithful love … constancy

 

Connecting truth with constancy and faithful love gives the Faithful the courage to break through whatever psychological defense mechanisms keep them from God.  Truth helps overcome the politics of personal defensiveness with the reality of the resurrected Christ.

 


Revelation 7:9, 14b-17 (This reading is a mistake; it belongs with Easter 51C, next week)

Funerals for Baptized Children, #6, uses this reading.[2]  This reading includes both the marriage and the subservient metaphors.

 

Verse 14b    

Lectionary (1998):                        white

The Vulgate (circa 410):               dealbaverunt

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        white

King James (1611):                      white

Jerusalem (1966):                        white

New American (1970):                 white

New Jerusalem (1985):                white

 

Contrary to the ordinary sense of the reading, washing anything in blood does not make it white.  The meaning exists in the use of metaphor.  The Lamb becomes a shepherd, meaning that unfulfilled wishes become fulfilled.  More primarily this means that the very wishes of the Father are fulfilled, rather than frustrated in the Faithful.  In a similar manner, the unfulfilled wishes of the Faithful are fulfilled in the blood of the Lamb.

 

John 10:14 (This reading is a mistake; it belongs with Easter 51C, next week)

The Faithful can know God in a manner analogous to the way in which a sheep knows the shepherd.  There is a sense of protection and fulfillment under the crook of the shepherd.

 

John 10:27-30 (This reading is a mistake; it belongs with Easter 51C, next week)

Verse 27, about the sheep recognizing the voice of the shepherd, is about Mary Magdalene recognizing the resurrected Jesus as the gardener.  Mary is one of the sheep of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus is not revealing himself to everyone, but only to those who love and obey him.  His revelation is individual and one by one.[3]  Mary Magdalene is a stand-in for the church and the Faithful.

 

The Greek in the less corrupt manuscripts does not have it that the Father is greater than all; but rather that the Faithful are a greater gift to Jesus than anything else is.  Douay-Rheims supports this translation.  Unity of love with God is the overwhelming satisfaction of the life of grace with God.  Unity of love is the gift of God to the Faithful and the Faithful, thus joined with the Father, become a type of dowry-gift of the Father to the Son.  This unity of love with God is the overwhelming satisfaction of the life of grace with God.

 

Verse 29

Lectionary (1998):                        My Father … is greater than all

The Vulgate (circa 410):               Pater meus … maius omnibus est

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        That which my Father hath given me is greater                                                     than all

King James (1611):                      My Father … is greater than all

Jerusalem (1966):                        The Father … is greater than anyone

New American (1970):                 My Father … is greater than all

New Jerusalem (1985):                The Father … is greater than anyone

 

To be with Jesus is the overwhelming satisfaction of the life of grace with God.  Paul and Barnabas overcome their disappointment with the Jews by turning toward the Gentiles, all the while remaining in the life of grace.  In the psalm, the People of God rejoice that God, the Good Shepherd, is choosing them as part of his flock.  Revelation is a type of beatific vision with the Lamb of God, now the Good Shepherd, overcoming all the disappointments of worldly life.  Finally, knowledge is the basis of the relationship between the Good Shepherd and his flock.  In the final analysis, this knowledge concerns the overwhelming satisfaction of the life of grace with God through Jesus.

 

 

For more on sources, besides the footnotes, see the Appendix file.

 



[1] Kevin E. Miller, “The Nuptial Eschatology of Revelation 19—22,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 2 (April 1998) 309-312.

[2] N.a., International Commission on English in the Liturgy: A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by Authority of Pope Paul IV: Order of Christian Funerals: Including Appendix 2: Cremation: Approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1998) 252.

 

[3] Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002) 284.