Preach is the word for these readings. Within the context of the magisterium, preaching causes a problem in that the present magisterium delivers its imprimatur on vertical, top-down communication, without providing for horizontal or peer-to-peer communication. The reason peer-to-peer communication cannot be omitted is because peer-to-peer communication, not parent-to-child communication, is essential for the psychological establishment of character and meaningful commitment.[1]


The Feast of Cana suits this contemplation, as Jesus begins his public ministry, preaching by an action.


Job 7:1-4, 6-7


verse 6:1[2]       Job spoke, saying:


The 6:1 location for this verse is not cited in the Lectionary.


verse 1           Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?


The meaning taken here is that action-preaching can be a rather dreary affair.


Psalm 174:1-2, 3-4, 5-6


Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted is the antiphon. Praise is a form of peer-to-peer preaching.


verse 3           He heals the brokenhearted

                                    and binds up their wounds.


verse 1c                     it is fitting to praise him.


Fitting carries the notion of justice. Saint Jerome[3] uses iucundum.


verse 2b                     the dispersed of Israel he gathers.


The Latin uses the future tense, congregabit. Gathers is something ever-present. Once gathered, expect preaching, because God loves the Faithful to show him off.


verse 3a         He heals the brokenhearted


Saint Jerome uses contritos for brokenhearted. To pray for a contrite heart is to pray for healing at the same time and is to pray for recognition that there is a need for healing.


verse 6b                     the wicked he casts to the ground.


Saint Jerome uses humilians for casts. In other words, to pray for a truly humble heart also prays for a heart cast down to the ground. Recognizing that, because I am  my own person, I would be one to get into trouble in the seminary, my Aunt Marie often urged me to be like the grass, low to the ground, able to withstand the worst sort of hurricane or tornado. She correctly knew that I would not turn this advice into misuse of a pray, pay, and obey mantra.


1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23


verse 16         If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,

                                    for an obligation has been imposed on me,

                                    and woe to me if I do not preach it!


verse 18         What then is my recompense?

                        That, when I preach,

                                    I offer the gospel free of charge

                                    so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.


Saint Jerome uses a different root word here than used later in the Gospel, as will be seen. The words Jerome uses here are evangelizavero and evangelizavero in verse 16, and evangelium praedicans, evangelium, and evangelio in verse 18.


Because verse 20 is omitted from the Lectionary, a recent scholarly translation may help.


As he [Paul] wrote to the “strong” at Corinth, “I became to the Jews like a Jew, in order that I might gain Jews; to those under the Law, like one under the Law—though I myself am not under the Law—in order that I might gain those under the Law” (1 Cor 9:20).[4]


Under the Law is used by Paul eight times (Gal 3:23; 4:4-5, 21; 5:18; cf. Rom 6:14-15; 1 Cor 9:20).[5] The relative ease with which this phrase might be turned into an approbation of lawlessness explains to me reason enough to omit from the Lectionary.


verse 22         To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.

                        I have become all things to all, to save at least some.


In the seminary a retired priest by the name of Father Hack Wilson, S.S.J., warned us not to try to become all things to all and referee a basketball game at the same time. Father recognized that that phrase is too often misinterpreted. At the same time, this sense of becoming weak to win over the weak expresses one reason why I take the back row and use a much-moderated voice during public worship and no audible voice at all otherwise. I do not want to distract someone else, including the sisters and nuns trying to connect with their God in holy prayer. As one scholar puts it,


For Paul to become “weak to the weak” (1 Cor 9:22) did not mean that Paul became like someone who had faith in God but not in Christ; rather it meant that Paul abstained from idol meat when around those who so abstained.[6]


Matthew 8:17


No comment


Mark 1:29-39


verse 29         On Leaving the synagogue

Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.


For house, Saint Jerome uses the well-known Latin, domum. Mark is about the household that is the Church.[7]


verse 30         Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.


A scholar points out that this is the first mention of Simon, Peter, by himself, alone.[8] I note that Peter is presented as among peers, rather than as a Pope, even a Pope primus inter pares, first among equals.


verse 33         The whole town was gathered at the door.


Door presumes a house.


verse 34         He cured many who were sick with various diseases…


Without a comma in the Greek, Saint Jerome provides one. This translation reads as if there were some whom Jesus did not cure. The grammarian points out that the use of many here, deriving from the Semitic mind, does not exclude all.[9] All of that notwithstanding, a scholar does recognize this verse as difficult.[10]


verse 35         Rising very early before dawn, he left

                                    and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.


A scholar points out that the wilderness of Mark 1:2-8 is “a narrative symbol for homelessness.”[11] In line with this thought, deserted place is somewhere, homelessness, other than a household. Prayer is appropriate outside the household. Prayer is the joy of contemplation of God, preaching is the result of that joy. Too much preaching is like too much joy, meaning that an empty barrel makes the most noise. Contemplation fills the barrel.


verse 36         Simon and those who were with him pursued him


For pursued, the grammarian offers the sense of hunted down,[12] Saint Jerome offers the sense of persecute. The exact Latin is persecutus est. Jesus wanted to be left alone to pray, yet he acceded to the pestering. In the seminary, there was a visiting priest, recognized by us seminarians as holy. That notwithstanding, we did not think it appropriate for him to shut down the basketball game in the gym below the church so that he might the better concentrate on his prayers. This was not judging the holy priest, but was peer-to-peer enabling us to develop our own character as to how we would react to similar circumstances did we encounter similar circumstances in our future parishes. I think this sense of hunted down also accounts for the great patience with the cacophony too often present during what should be singing at Mass, not only during the week, but also on Sundays.


verse 38         He told them,”Let us go on to the nearby villages

                                    that I may preach there also.

                        For this purpose have I come.”


verse 39         So he went into their synagogues,

                                    preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.


Saint Jerome uses praedicem only, for Jesus here, leaving out any direct reference to the good news of the Gospel.


A scholar notes, “The intimate association of the Twelve `with Jesus’ is what authorizes them to do what, up to this point in the story, only Jesus has done.”[13] How? does this intimate association ever authorize the laity to do anything? in the eyes of the magisterium? in the eyes of the non-magisterium? in the eyes of the Faithful, themselves? If the Faithful are to preach to one another, that can only happen based on their intimate association with grace, with Jesus.


Preaching is the word for these readings. The preaching of Job is drudgery. The preaching of Paul a type of thankless obligation. The preaching of Jesus a joy (even at Cana), often misunderstood. All of the preaching in these readings comes across as peer-to-peer, rather than as father-to-child.

[1] My source for this is a television program on leadership probably between Thursday January 16, 2003 and Saturday, January 18, 2003. The professor had taught at MIT and Harvard and was now at the University of Southern California. His name began with a “B,” something like “Bemis.” He made his comment in response to a question from the audience. Furthermore, throughout my life I have noted that children often do not take on the character of their parents; this explanation accounts for that differentiation.


[2] Indented verse quotations are taken from National Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Roman Missal Restored by Decree of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican and Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Lectionary for Mass: For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America: Second Typical Edition: Volume I: Sundays, Solemnities, Feasts of the Lord and Saints (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998).


[3] Saint Jerome, the Vulgate, and the Latin all refer to Nova Vulgata: Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio: Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II ratione habita Iussu Pauli PP, VI Recognita Auctoritate Joannis Pauli PP, II Promulgata Editio Typica Altera (00120 Citta Del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1979, 1986, 1998) ISBN 88-2209-2163-4


[4] Robert A. J. Gagnon, “Why the `Weak’ at Rome Cannot Be Non-Christian Jews,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1 (January 2000) 74.


[5] Joel Marcus, “`Under the Law’: The Background of a Pauline Expression," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 1 (January 2001) 72.


[6] Robert A. J. Gagnon, “Why the `Weak’ at Rome Cannot Be Non-Christian Jews,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1 (January 2000) 76.


[7] Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J., review of Michael F. Trainor, The Quest for Home: The Household in Mark’s Community in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 4 (October 2002) 781.


[8] E. Best, “Peter in the Gospel According to Mark," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978) 548.


[9] Max Zerwick, S.J. and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament unabridged, 5th, revised edition (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1996) 103.


[10] Robert H. Stein, “The Matthew-Luke Agreements Against Mark: Insight from John," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 3 (July, 1992) 484.


[11] Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J., review of Michael F. Trainor, The Quest for Home: The Household in Mark’s Community in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 4 (October 2002) 781.


[12] Max Zerwick, S.J. and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament unabridged, 5th, revised edition (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1996) 103.


[13] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., “Mark 6:6b-30: Mission, the Baptist, and Failure," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 4 (October 2001) 651.