On September 21, the
With outmoded patriarchal efficiency, the readings
deny adult women adult dignity. The
first reading, from Proverbs ,
describes a worthy wife as an unfailing prize, rather than as an
adult marriage partner. The second
reading from Psalm 128:3 describes a good wife as a fruitful vine, a thing. In
1 Thessalonians 5:3,
Educated women, now capable of escaping sexual abuse
by earning their own livings, deserve better.
This is not to deny that educated women, like the women of
The proper language may be hierarchical sexual abuse scandals. The scandal is not with the clergy, but with the bishops. Eugene Cullen Kennedy, emeritus professor of psychology at Loyola University, Chicago, describes hierarchical management style as a beached whale, especially evident in how the hierarchy handles the scandal of sexual abuse.
For educated women and men who care, there is a lot to swallow in the readings for today. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, not used in these readings but only five verses away, is about “building up” members of Christ’s body. The readings for today tear down, rather than build up. What is used in these readings is a warning contained in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, sudden disaster … like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, presented as the wrath of God.
Proverbs 31:10-31 is very carefully thought out, as an acrostic passage. This means that the scholars of the assembly were responsible for composing the message. They insisted on a patriarchal system of society.
As a point of research interest, Personal Notes from 2002 are settling into a better pattern of using the Index. Both the Index of verses appearing in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly and Personal Notes, using those verses, are on the web at http://www.western-civilization.com/CBQ/Personal%20Notes/Personal%20Notes.htm This means I may begin adding earlier volumes of the Quarterly to the Index, as my effort to do the research lightens. The October 2005 CBQ issue is now on the web.
While Psalm 128 is not acrostic, Psalm 128 does continue to treat women as things, as prizes, as vines, useful for covering a man’s house. Psalm 128 is freer flowing than Proverbs. That notwithstanding, the Lectionary hints at the problem in its translation of the antiphon, Psalm 128 1a. first as antiphon, Blessed are those … then as verse, Blessed are you …, and, finally differently from Holy Family Sunday, Blessed is everyone. … The Faithful may wonder about where the women are with the patriarchal translators, between those, you, and everyone.
The varying translations of the Greek for time, in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, contradict part of the reality of giving birth. The Faithful do have a sense of the timeframe, if not the exact hour, in which natural childbirth will take place.
1 Thessalonians 5:1:
Lectionary (1998): Concerning times and seasons …
The Vulgate (circa 410): De temporibus autem et momentis …
Douay-Rheims (1582-1610): But of the times and moments …
King James (1611): But of the times and the seasons …
Jerusalem (1966): … about “times and seasons” …
New American (1970): Concerning times and seasons …
New Jerusalem (1985): About times and dates …
The Greek uses two different words, both of which are translated time. Unlike English, the Koine Greek of the Bible does not show relationships of time with verb tenses. This reality hampers close translations. The Greek for 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 has seven indications of difficulties with surviving manuscripts, none of which involve the phrase mentioned above. Each of the variations, however, leaves room for the Church to decide which variation to follow. This permits change over time, change that is overdue for the readings used today.
No matter what the nature of this assistance of the Holy Spirit is, the reality remains … that papal teaching in the Catholic Church on specific moral issues has changed so that the church now accepts what was once condemned (usury, religious freedom, human rights, democracy) and condemns what was once accepted (slavery, persecution of heretics, the patriarchal family). Thus, history bears out that even the papal teaching office itself has experienced the limitations of reason and even to some extent the sinfulness that affects all human reason and human decision-making.
The political situation at the time, also accounts for
how the Church preserved the various divergent parables. This particular parable represents
This parable helps demonstrate the concern of Matthew
for the mixed truly catholic nature of the Church.
Matthew is trying to include the
Pharisees. To say that the Mother of
God, Mary, is excluded is not entirely wrong.
After all, she is not Pope. In
The broad context (
By not objecting to sexual harassment and abuse, these readings are about the teaching Magisterium of Holy Mother the Church insulting women. The readings only present women as doing women’s work, a vine, or in childbirth. The readings omit the ability of women to earn a living, though local churches are forced to hire women in many capacities, always under male authorities. This omission of objection is particularly galling to the Faithful women who became educated so that they would have an alternative to accepting abuse because, otherwise, they had to remain in the house.
For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at www.western-civilization.com/CBQ/Personal%20Notes
 Hanan Eshel and John Strugnell, “Alphabetical Acrostics in Pre-Tannaitic Hebrew," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July 2000) 444.
 Barbara E. Reid, O.P., “Violent Endings in Matthew’s Parables and Christian Nonviolence," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 2 (April 2004) 237-238. 251.
 Daniel C. Olson, “Matthew 22:1-14 as Midrash,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 3 (July 2005) 444.