These readings are about fraternal
correction. The Magnificat ® readings
God orders fraternal correction, when God so orders.
Verse 8 … but I will hold you responsible for his death.
The Lectionary seems to soft pedal the nature of accountability and responsibility.
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
There is too much here from Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. to tire neither your eyes nor my hands, I will develop only two of his seven principles for studying and praying the Psalms. All of Chapter Two is pertinent. I have made notes to treat the following no later than the time signified. The first principle with readings 133A, in two weeks; the Third Principle with readings 69C, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, in about two more years; the fourth principal with readings 2B in the forthcoming First Sunday in Advent; the fifth principal with readings 72C, the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, in about two more years; and the sixth principal with readings 102C, the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, again in about two more years. My intention is not to repeat myself.
Methods for Studying and Praying the Psalms
“O that today you would listen to his voice!” (Psalm 95:7).
Chapter 1 discussed various aspects of the book of Psalms, mostly external details about the sweep of the 150 psalms in the Bible, such as the different systems for numbering the psalms and their verses, as well as the question of “titles.” Chapter 2 draws closer to the texts of the individual psalms, with particular attention given to Psalm 95, in order to clarify some helpful methods for studying each and every psalm. What follows is a series of seven guiding “principles” that can help readers to become fully engaged in the psalms not only as historical and literary documents but more specifically as expressions of prayer.
First Principle “Today” Has Its Own
Father Peter Tran, an Associate Pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Newport News Virginia, seems particularly sensitive to what happens “each and every day,” so this principle will be helpful in a couple of weeks.
Second Principle Read the Text of the Psalm
It may seem strange to repeat the obvious: one needs to read the text, the actual words of the psalm that are intended for study and prayer. Perhaps what this second principle is stressing is the need to read the psalm slowly and reverently. Savor each word. Read with the faith that God is speaking each word as though for the first time.
Psalm 95 reads according to a new translation, proposed by a subcommittee of the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL):
Come, sing with joy to God,
shout to our savior, our rock.
Enter God’s presence with praise,
enter with shouting and song.
The Lectionary translation is as follows:
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
A great God is the Lord,
over the gods like a king.
The Lectionary leaves out this third verse, with its mention of gods, apparently admitting to more than monotheism.
God cradles the depths of the earth,
holds fast the mountain peaks,
God shaped the ocean and owns it,
formed the earth by hand.
Come, bow down and worship,
kneel to the Lord our maker.
this is our God, our shepherd,
we are the flock led with care.
The Lectionary has:
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the Lord who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
Listen today to God’s voice:
“Harden no heart as at Meribah,
On that day in the desert at Massah.
There your people tried me,
though they had seen my work.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
This translation has been criticized for using hearts overly much.
Stuhlmueller and ICEL continued:
“Forty years with that lot!
I said: They are perverse,
they do not accept my ways.
So I swore in my anger:
They shall not enter my rest.”
This translates the Bible according to the principle of dynamic equivalence. [Underlining throughout is my own emphasis.] According to this norm, the Hebrew text is not rendered word for word (formal equivalence) but, rather its words are communicated with the intention of dynamically involving the reader or listener, the one at prayer or at worship, in the message of the Bible.
The second principle also invites readers, ideally at least, to read the psalms according to many, or at least more than one, translation. One needs to read with an eye to difference, and ask “Why?” or “What new insight can be gained?” A person may want to compare the following, somewhat literal translation with the one above, which is a dynamic equivalent to what follows:
1. Step forward! Ring out (your joy) to the Lord!
Let us sing aloud (literally: shout) to the Rock, our
2. Gratefully, let us approach God’s presence (literally: face).
With music(al instruments) let us sing aloud (literally: shout) to
3. What a great God is the Lord,
a great king over all gods.
4. In his hand the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks.
5. The sea belongs to its Maker,
the dry land too, formed by God’s hand.
6. Come! Let us worship! Let us bow profoundly!
Let us kneel in the presence (literally: before the face) of the
Lord (now) creating us.
7a. The Lord, indeed, is our God,
while we are the people of God’s shepherding,
the flock in God’s hands.
7b. Oh, that today you hear God’s voice!
8. Do not let your heart be hardened as (happened) at Meribah (or place
as on that wilderness
day at Massah (or, at
9. There your ancestors tested me,
they tempted me, though they had seen my wonders.
10. For forty years how I loathed that generation,
I declared them a people with erring heart,
wandering off from my way (literally: not experiencing my way).
11. Angrily I swear:
(thus) they can never be at rest with me (literally: enter into my
For the sake of
brevity, I leave out the beautiful translation of
A slow, prayerful, and studious reading of the text, comparing translations if one has access to the Hebrew poetry, should do more than acquaint readers with the text of the Bible. Hopefully it will revive memories of other times at prayer when this psalm had impressed its readers and hearers, and had communicated secret, penetrating messages from God. Perhaps this or another psalm being studied was sung at a wedding or a religious profession of vows or at the funeral of a dear one. Such a remembrance draws listeners and readers into a company of saints, or what the epistle to the Hebrews calls a “great … cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1).
A careful yet informed and critical reading of the text of the Bible, and specifically, the text of the psalms, can draw someone into a sacred company of saints and memories. Together hearers listen reverently and gratefully, carefully and delicately to God’s word handed down to the community of believers by the community’s ancient ancestors whose lives and experiences reflected in the psalms can offer people hope and consolation, and a glimmer into the divine ways of God.
Third Principle: Read the Text with Imagination
Fourth Principle: Read the Psalms According to Its Key Words
Fifth Principle: Read the Psalm with Other Parallel Passages
Sixth Principle: Read the Psalms according to the Liturgy and Classic Spiritual Writers.
Seventh Principle: Consult Commentaries
If a person is studying the psalms primarily for prayer and work among God’s people, then the ambiance is first the presence of God. God, such a person believes with conviction, is communicating a personal message. This message has resonated through the centuries; each century added its own accent or coloration to the word, and so does the background of the person of faith today. After one has listened to the words of a psalm, reflected on the psalm in relation to the life of Israel and one’s own personal life experience, the next step is to consult recent commentaries on the psalms.
Commentaries add many details; for instance, the meaning of Hebrew words, the original setting in Israel and a hypothesis about the psalm’s role in Israel’s annual liturgy, or the relation of one psalm with others in the Psalter and with poems elsewhere in the Bible. Commentaries alert readers to aspects of archaeology: the structure of houses and temples, the number of inhabitants, their life-style, diet, and social practices, the kinds of musical instruments and religious symbols. So far as information is available, readers learn from commentaries about the religious and civic leaders in Israel, their function in worship and instruction, the evolution and changes in their roles. Commentaries reconstruct ancient services or rituals in which psalms played a part.
Commentaries contain important information. Were there different ways of translating Hebrew words in other ancient languages? What new insights come from the early Greek translation, called the Septuagint? How have culture, worldviews, and certain religious beliefs influenced the writing of the psalms and their message?
If the principle norm for interpreting the psalms rested with what the original writer intended to say, then one needs to reverse the process and turn the final principle, the use of commentaries, into the first principle. Pope Pius XII in the famous encyclical, the “magna carta” of modern biblical studies in the Roman Catholic Church, named from the opening Latin words, Divino Afflante Spiritu (The Divine or Holy Inspiring Spirit), wrote:
“What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use (SS35).”
“Wherefore the exegete, just as he must search out and expound the literal meaning of the words, intended and expressed by the sacred writer, so also must he do likewise for the spiritual sense, provided it is clearly intended by God (SS26).
“Moreover we may rightly and deservedly hope that our time also can contribute something towards the deeper and more accurate interpretation of Sacred Scripture. For not a few things, especially in matters pertaining to history, were scarcely at all or not fully explained by the commentators of past ages, since they lacked almost all the information which was needed for their clearer exposition (SS31).”
Because the historical-critical method is firmly established in various church circles, one can and should have recourse to that method, as well as other and newer methods, in the study of the psalms from commentaries. Only after one has come to understand the Bible as a document that reflects ancient Israel’s experience, and a story conditioned by history, culture, and various theological perspectives, heard and proclaimed over the centuries within Israel, various believing communities, and today within not only the context of contemporary faith communities but also within the temple of one’s heart, can one then further enrich its meaning by having recourse to its origins and first use in Israel. Fortunately, many scholars begin with this seventh principle so that they delve into the task with fresh energy and high hopes.
The liturgy itself is suffering through a period of “fraternal correction” as the church searches, sometimes acrimoniously, for a balance between dynamic and formal equivalence of translations. My sense is that scholars consider Saint Jerome’s Vulgate a dynamic equivalence translation. Should I ever see a scholar approach that question, I will be sure to note it. I do know that the sense of Vulgate is rooted in vulgar; that contemporaries of Jerome thought his translation lacked Greek grace.
Verse 9 … and whatever other command there may be …
The Nova Vulgata, my translation: … and if there is another command … King James “… and if there be any other commandment …” : Douay-Rheims: “… and if there is any other commandment …” Jerusalem: “… and so on ….” New Jerusalem: “… and all the other commandments that there are ….”
The Lectionary translation implies that there are other commands, an implication not contained in the Nova Vulgata, King James, and Douay-Rheims.
Verse 10 Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Latin uses two
words for love and one for beloved: caritas, amor, and dilectio. Cassell’s
distinguishes the three as affection, love, and esteem for caritas; love from inclination, personified as the God Cupid for amor; and beloved, dear for dilectio. Dilectio is not used in the
English section of Cassell’s as a way to translate love. Dilectio is what the Nova
Vulgata has. I think dilectio is the type of love one has
toward one’s maiden aunt. The Greek uses
frequently translated with caritas.
2 Corinthians 5:19
[no comment here]
Verse 15 … “If your brother sins against you…”
Verse 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
In the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 25, we
Verse 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them”
Lord’s Prayer into the Gospel according to
With the help of Driver’s
[another scholar’s] model of the social impact of ritual, we have identified at
least three likely aspects of the experience of the Lord’s Prayer which members
of the authorial audience recall as they encounter the prayer in
There is no doubt that the
placement of the prayer in
Equally pervasive is the narrative’s community-forming impact. In calling disciples to follow him Jesus calls them to encounter God’s reign (4:17-22) in a new and alternative community (5:3-16). The Sermon on the Mount requires this community to live according to Jesus’s reinterpretation of conventional wisdom (-48). It exists over against the synagogue (6:2, 5, 16) and the Gentiles (; 6:7, 32), yet it exists for the world (-16; 10). It is the forgiven, forgiving, merciful community of the “little ones,” the children, the servants (9:13; 12:7; 18:1-13, 15-20, 21-35; 20:20-28; 24:45-51), where traditional patterns of authority are overturned (23:8-12). Throughout the gospel, personal, social, and cosmic transformation by means of divine presence and human obedience is portrayed.
The compatibility between the prayer’s liturgical impact (insofar as we can identify three general aspects of it with the help of Driver’s model) and these major themes in the gospel may account for the prayer’s inclusion in the gospel. As part of the gospel narrative, the prayer offers another means of communicating with the audience. The prayer contributes to the gospel’s “meaning” not only by its content in the context of the narrative but also by its perlocutionary force. By encountering this familiar prayer in the gospel’s text, the audience is enabled to recall, and thereby renew, its liturgical experience of the prayer’s gifts of order, community, and transformation, realities which are also central to the gospel’s narrative.
Another scholar comments;
The tendency on the part of
Commenting on the Jewishness of Matthew, another scholar observes:
It is only
Further evidence that Jesus was
the object of worship in the Matthean churches can be seen in the two passages
in which his continuing presence is promised (18:20, “Where two or three
are gathered in my name, I am there among them,” and (28:20) “I am with you
always, to the end of the age”). Echoes
can be heard here not only of passages in the Hebrew Scriptures in which God
promises to be with
Hurtado [a scholar] is fully
justified in suggesting that early Christian worship of
Another scholar treats the church:
Another passage in
I shall give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
and whatever you bind upon earth will be bound in
and whatever you loose upon earth will be loosed in
interpretations of the meaning of binding and loosing differ, but the other
examples of precise parallelism in
More, already quoted in the August 25, Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, from another scholar on loosing:
A comparable understanding of the
“unloosing” of Scripture can be found in John 10:35, where
In conclusion, this liturgy makes room for fraternal correction as an act of love. Ezekiel has God telling us we better do it, if God commands it. The psalmist warns us, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Saint Paul tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, the liturgy is telling us to use fraternal correction with the same alacrity towards others that we use toward ourselves. In the Gospel, Jesus even sets up due process: “If he does not listen [to you] … take … two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then …” that is all there is to write. The due process is over. The fundamental idea in correction is love.
 Saint Thomas Aquinas, From Summa Theologiae, A Concise Translation, Timothy McDermott, Ed., 1989, Christian Classics, Inc., Westminster, MD., Magnificat ® Vol. 4, No. 7 (September 2002), 116-117.
 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.
General Editor, The
The Holy Bible: Translated from the
Latin Vulgate with Annotations, References, and an Historical and Chronological
Table: The Douay Version of The Old Testament, First published by the English
College at Douay, A.D. 1609: The Confraternity Edition of The New Testament: A
Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version Edited by Catholic Scholars under the
Patronage of the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
(New York. P.
Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality
of the Psalms (
 Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the
 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), 813.
 Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the
Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the
Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the
Cassell’s Latin Dictionary:
Latin-English and English-Latin revised by J.
 Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum: Graece et Latine: Textum Graecum post Eberhard et Erwin Nestle communiter ediderunt Barbara et Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger: Textus Latinus Novae Vulgatae Bibliorum Sacrorum Editioni debetur: Utriusque textus apparatum criticum recensuerent et editionem novis curis elaboraverunt Barbara et Kurt Aland una cum Instituto Studiorum Textus Novi Testamenti Monasterii Westphaliae (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 1999) Editio XXVII.
 Warren Carter, “Recalling the Lord's Prayer: The Authorial Audience and Matthew's Prayer as Familiar Liturgical Experience,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 3 (July 1995), 529-530.
 Jack Dean Kingsbury, “Observations on the `Miracle Chapters’ of Matthew 8-9,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978), 571.