First Reading:                   Wisdom: 2:12, 17-20

Responsorial Psalm:          Psalm 54:3-4, 5, 6-8

Second Reading:              James 3:16—4:3

Alleluia:                             cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:14

Gospel:                             Mark 9:30-37



These readings consider wisdom from both a worldly and an other worldly point of view.  The Wisdom of Solomon pits the wisdom of the wicked against the wisdom of the just.  The wicked test the just, to see how just they really are.  The Psalmist simply relies upon the Lord through all the trials. 

James is tricky.  Scholars regard the Epistle as one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament.  The passage for this Sunday begins with the praiseworthy wisdom of the wise and then makes a transition to the foolishness of the unwise.  Some consider this passage the heart of the epistle.  Mark E. Taylor and George H. Guthrie develop this argument in their article, annotated below.

Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus determines to take up his cross, as he eventually heads toward Jerusalem.  These Sunday readings are about the Cross and Wisdom going together.  That is what has always made Christianity demand a high level of Faith.

The Faithful can be misunderstood, as was Jesus.  Just as wicked people misjudged Jesus to be as wicked as themselves, so will they similarly misjudge the Faithful.  Jesus was not crucified because he was such a nice person.  Jesus upset the status-quo (things as they are) because he was seeking the favor of the divine authority, rather than the favor of human authority.  The prayer for this Sunday is to seek Wisdom from on high and to accept the resulting crosses that follow.


Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line. Those uninterested in scholarly and tangential details should stop reading here. If they do, however, they may miss some interesting material.


Wisdom: 2:12, 17-20[1]

The Greek for gentleness in Wisdom 2:19 comes from the same derivative as gentle in James 3:17.


Wisdom 2:10-20

Sean Freyne, “The Galilean Jesus and a Contemporary Christology”[2]

Wisdom starts out in Sacred Scripture as something from on high.  Eventually, however, the Gospels personify Wisdom in the person and Cross of the Christ.  The gift of Faith and trust in God is required to accept the relationship between the Cross and Wisdom.  Freyne writes, “Mark’s account of the Passion has strong echoes of the persecution of the just wise one who is vindicated by God, as described in the Wisdom of Solomon (2:10-20).”


Psalm 54:34-, 5, 6-8

Codex Sinaiticus[3]

The continuing point of the exercise reaching into the original manuscripts is to accept some doubt. From doubt results the search for truth as part of Christian life. The Church chose Sacred Scripture from many competing original manuscripts. Development of the words of Sacred Scripture is an historical reality. These Notes try to include this reality as an act of humility against the self-righteous pride required to lead a Christian life.


James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27[4]

James 3:13-18

Mark E. Taylor and George H. Guthrie, "The Structure of James"[5]

Taylor and Guthrie argue that this passage is at the heart of the epistle.  They write, “Contextually, the passage reveals a grounding in Jewish concepts of wisdom, emphasizing the practical obedience of a life marked by the possession of wisdom as a gift of God.”


James 3:16

Peter Spitaler, “James 1:5-8: A Dispute with God”[6]

Spitaler argues that this epistle aims at what is happening within the Christian community.  In this epistle, James is praying for wisdom.


James 3:17

Timothy B. Cargal, review of Darian R. Lockett, Purity and Worldview in the Epistle of James[7]

Lockett observes that purity or other-worldliness is core to James.  Lockett makes good points, but is not entirely convincing.  Lockett defines purity as “separation from the world.” 


James 3:18

S. W. Flynn, shorter notice of Robert Louis Wilken (ed.), Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators[8]

Wilken relates the purity of James 3:18 to the purity of Isaiah 32:17, which the Lectionary does not use anywhere.  Isaiah 32:17:  “and the product of uprightness will be peace, the effect of uprightness being quiet and security for ever.


James 1:18


Mark 9:30-37[9]

Mark 9:30-37 brings out what it means to have a loving relationship with God.  That is why Mark is suited for Pastoral Care of the Sick.[10]


This may be the second time I have not found any difficulties with the New Testament manuscripts.  Therefore, let me add a bit more from the Sinaiticus web site.


'Codex Sinaiticus'[11]



Codex Sinaiticus was copied by more than one scribe.  Constantine Tischendorf identified four in the nineteenth century.  Subsequent research decided that there were three, but it is possible that a fourth (different from Tischendorf’s fourth scribe) can be identified.  Each of the three undisputed scribes has a distinctive way of writing which can be identified with practice.  Each also had a distinctive way of spelling many sounds, particularly vowels which scribes often wrote phonetically.  One of them may have been a senior copyist.

To make their manuscript, the scribes had to perform a series of tasks. They had to

1.             determine a format (there are very few surviving manuscripts written with four columns to a page);

2.             divide the work between them;

3.             prepare the parchment, including ruling it with a framework for the layout of columns and lines;

4.             prepare the manuscripts they were copying;

5.             get pens and ink together;

6.             write the text;

7.             check it;

8.             assemble the whole codex in the right order.


Mark 9:31

David J. Norman, O.F.M., "Doubt and the Resurrection of Jesus"[12]

Norman explains,


Mark places the way Jesus died, not his postresurrection appearances, at the heart of his Gospel.  The key to recognizing Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God lies in accepting how he dies.  The Twelve never do understand his predictions that the Messiah would be delivered into the hands of those who would kill him and that he would rise after three days (9:31).


Mark  9:31

C. Clifton Black, “Mark as Historian of God’s Kingdom”[13]

Black argues that Mark is about a history of the Kingdom of God.  Black explains, “Nowhere in Mark does Jesus act as an autonomous agent: … toward rejection and vindication divinely ordained (8:21; 9:31 [used here]; 10:33-34; 14:41-42).”


Mark 9:31

Robert Lassalle-Klein, “Jesus of Galilee and the Crucified People: The Contextual Christology of Jon Sobrino and Ignacio Ellacuría”[14]

Lassalle-Klein writes,


This is Sobrino’s explanation for how the divine economy of salvation is historicized through what the Gospels portray as the defining moment of the historical reality of Jesus: his decision to accept suffering and death in order to fulfill his messianic, prophetic, and priestly mission from the Father to bring the Kingdom of God as good news for the poor.



For more on sources see the Appendix file.  Personal Notes are on the web site at


[2] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 2009) 294.


[3]  (accessed February 14, 2009).  Psalm 54 in the Lectionary is Psalm 53 in the Codex Sinaiticus.


[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 4 (October 2006) 686, 687, 692-700.


[6] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 3 (July 2009) 572, 573.


[7] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 2 (April 2009) 408.


[8] Theological Studies, Vol. 69, No. 3 (September 2008) 718.


[10] The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and Published by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum: 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: Prepared by International Commission on English in the Liturgy: a Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1983) 59.


[12] Theological Studies, Vol. 69, No. 4 (December 2008) 799.


[13] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 1 (January 2009) 78.


[14] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 2009) 364.