These readings are about reevaluating and rethinking priorities.  Ecclesiastes does not mean that everything is vanity, only earthly ambitions.  Psalm 90, in asking the Lord to help, is telling the self to stay focused in rethinking priorities.  Colossians is about thinking what being buried to the world with Christ may mean.  The Gospel, about the man with the full barn, is an invitation from Jesus via Mary, the Jewish Mother of Jesus, to rethink the anxieties of this world.  Mary, portrayed so passively by the pay, pray, and obey church bureaucrats, encourages the Faithful throughout Luke to both ask and answer questions.  My assumption is that Luke is retelling stories he heard from Mary.

 

Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23

Even at the unconscious level, Ecclesiastes is about rethinking and reevaluating priorities in the light of Solomon himself.  What the Lectionary translates Qoheleth, Jerome names Ecclesiastes, hence, the name of the book.  Qoheleth is Solomon.  This passage is a commentary on the nature of wisdom, transforming a realistic sense of the futilities of life into a devotion and worship of God.[1]

 

Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17 (95:8)

The Lectionary scholarship concerning Psalm 90 is sad. The Lectionary uses verses 14 and 17 without acknowledgement. The Lectionary implies the antiphon is from verse 8 in Psalm 90, although verse 8 is from Psalm 95. Psalm 90 is already written up in my document: Bible Study031012_Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.doc, 143B.  The 129C Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time readings incorrectly identify verses 14, 17 as 14-17.  Even the Lectionary does not always help build thought on a solid foundation.  The Responsorial Antiphon in 143B is verse 14a, not verse 14.

 

The Lectionary uses Psalm 90 as follows:

 

Readings      Page in         Verses used

                     Lectionary

114C             751               3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14,            17          (95:8) Today

129C             820               3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14,            17       (1)          Ordinary 23

143B             893                              12-13, 14-15, 16-17,      (14)          Ordinary 28

 

verse (14)     Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

 

verse 14b      that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.

 

Keeping things in perspective, verse 4 notes “For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday.”  In these days of visiting Saturn, a few thousand years takes on unprecedented meaning as a matter of perspective.  Verse 4 recalls the creative act of God.[2]

 

The idea of “changing grass, which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades” cannot be well appreciated without witnessing what happens in Israel.  The strength and vigor of the grass disappears in a twinkle.  Life is unwittingly short.  Mary, as she prayed the psalms, knew that she had to think her way through created activity to God.  Through the Gospel of Luke, she encourages the Faithful to do likewise.

 

Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11

Verse 2         Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

 

This verse exemplifies that Paul prefers Plato’s Forms to Aristotle’s matter and form as philosophical constructs.  I mean, Plato regards material reality as mere reflections of immaterial reality, whereas Aristotle regards both material and immaterial reality as real.  Saint Augustine and the Protestants tend to follow Paul and Plato, whereas Saint Thomas Aquinas and Catholics tend to follow Aristotle.  Thought of every stripe is appropriate in the development of Faith.  Colossians reminds the Faithful that thought requires focus, focus on the Creator rather than creation.

 

Verse 5        

Lectionary (1998):                        greed that is idolatry

The Vulgate (circa 410):               simulacorum servitus

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        which is the service of idols         

King James (1611):                      covetousness, which is idolatry

Jerusalem (1966):                        especially greed, which is the same thing as                                                             worshiping a false god

New American (1970):                 greed that is idolatry

New Jerusalem (1985):                especially greed, which is the same thing as                                                             worshiping a false god

 

I wanted to see if there was discrepancy in English meaning away from Jerome. There is not.

 


Matthew 5:3

Poor in spirit can be confusing.  When one is self-righteous before the Lord, one is rich rather than poor in spirit.  The issue is priorities of concern and thought, not condition of the soul.

 

Luke 12:13-21

Verse 14

Lectionary (1998):                        Friend

The Vulgate (circa 410):               Homo

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        Man

King James (1611):                      Man

Jerusalem (1966):                        My friend

New American (1970):                 Friend

New Jerusalem (1985):                My friend

 

Evidently, Friend is an appropriate way to translate the Greek and the Latin, Homo.

 

Verse 15

Lectionary (1998):                        all greed

The Vulgate (circa 410):               avaritia

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        all covetousness

King James (1611):                      covetousness

Jerusalem (1966):                        avarice of any kind

New American (1970):                 all greed

New Jerusalem (1985):                avarice of any kind

 

Greed, covetousness, and avarice bring different connotations to the warning of Jesus.

 

Verse 16, land was something peasants commonly possessed.  Land was a mark of relative wealth, not in the sense of a buying-and-selling market economy, but in the sense of self-worth.  Of special interest for the Poor Clare monastic contemplative garden in New Kent County, Virginia, is that, in ancient Galilee, the eastern door was the main light source and the western door entered the enclosed garden.  In a similar vein, the Galilean house was where men were largely excluded.  For the nuns, the sun rises in the east, behind the altar.  The doors behind the nave, where the nuns worship, lead to the west and their interior monastic garden.  The house was a space of “continuing communal negotiation,” something also pertinent to monastic life.[3]

 

All negotiation takes thought.  For Christians that means thought focused on the Kingdom of God, rather than man or mammon.  Through it all, Mary shows the way.

 

Luke is known for 152 questions, 65 of which contain a dual focus, four of which have their first idea build on previously highlighted information, such as verse 12:20b.[4]  I can imagine Mary regaling Luke with these stories about Jesus, a twinkle in her eye, as she reveals the Kingdom of God.  Such questions are encouragement to think on one’s own as one learns about what God has in store for the Faithful.

 

Verse 19

Lectionary (1998):                        as for you

The Vulgate (circa 410):               anima

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        my soul

King James (1611):                      my soul

Jerusalem (1966):                        my soul

New American (1970):                 as for you

New Jerusalem (1985):                my soul

 

Soul has a special meaning in Hebrew, connoting the seat of the appetites, rather than source of self-movement, as in the Greek.

 

Verse 19, be merry has a sexual connotation, eat, drink, be merry.  Even in 1 Corinthians (9:4), Saint Paul notes that evangelists are entitled to have women.  That verse has been translated, “Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a woman?”[5]  Such a sense of merriment runs throughout Scripture.  See 2 Sam 11:11, Tob 7:10 and 1 Kgs 4:20, and 1 Sam 30:16.  With the parable of the rich man, Luke brings the Faithful back to God through Jesus.

 

The gentle Mary, so apparently passive, encourages the Faithful to think for themselves as she shares her stories and teaching in the Gospel of Luke.  Ecclesiastes encourages rethinking even the unconscious, the anxieties of life, against the verities of the God of time.  Psalm 90 recalls the very creative activity of God. Colossians invites the Faithful to rethink their existence within the context of their life of Jesus through grace. These readings are about reevaluating and rethinking priorities.



[1] Douglas B. Miller, “What the Preacher Forgot: The Rhetoric of Ecclesiastes," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 2 (April 2000) 215-235.

[2] Benedict T. Viviano, O.P., “The Least in the Kingdom: Matthew 11:11, Its Parallel in Luke 7:28 (Q), and Daniel 4:14," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1 (January 2000) 42.

[3] F. Gerald Downing, “In Quest of First-Century C.E. Galilee," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (January 2004) 87, 88, 94-95 and passim.  Also see Robert H. Gundry, “Mark 10:29: Order in the List," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 3 (July 1997) 471-473.

 

[4] Paul Elbert, “An Observation on Luke’s Composition and Narrative Style of Questions," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (January 2004) 100, 101.

 

[5] Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P., Interpolations in 1 Corinthians," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1 (January 1986) 89.