Several housekeeping notes. My reason for mentioning Carroll Stuhlmueller in the prologue was a Sister in the last stages of cancer, now no longer able either to receive or send e-mail. This good religious has a love of Stuhlmueller that I wanted to share. Stuhlmueller will no longer receive top billing.

 

Some of my documentation, like that for Stuhlmueller, is repeated for each session: references to the Lectionary,[1] the Vulgate,[2] Sunday Sermons of the Fathers,[3] Nestle,[4] the grammarian,[5] and Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter on the Rosary.[6] That documentation is secondary in value to what comes from the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.

 

The Quarterly references apply recent scholarship to the Lectionary readings. In effect, these Personal Notes annotate the Index references at www.western-civilization.com By reviewing the footnotes, one can quickly decide whether the effort to consult the original article may be worth the effort.

 

My intention is to leave these notes in the prologue for two more Sundays, then add the same as an appendix at the end of each session. The Lectionary gives the readings used at Mass, the Vulgate reaches toward a traditional Latin translation, while Nestle and the grammarian reach even further back to the original Greek. Sunday Sermons brings the Fathers of the Church to bear, in the monastic traditions, including the Poor Clares. The idea is to balance and connect recent scholarship with the substance of traditional spirituality.

 

The Sunday words are developed out of Stuhlmueller. Stuhlmueller advises praying the psalms with a word-focus. A single word is somewhat easier than the Responsorial Antiphon that is a little more difficult, but that I use personally.

 

As the readings cycles progress, eventually Stuhlmueller and the Sunday Sermons will be used up. After that I may simply add to what I originally wrote. That change will take several more years to accomplish.

 

While the projected Appendix will take up considerable printed space, my computer can readily accommodate that. I will not expect regular readers to print the Appendix, nor do I intend to print it each week.

 

All of that said, the word for this week is church.

 

Pope John-Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginia Mariae cites none of the readings for this Sunday. The Mystery of Light would be the Coming of the Kingdom.

 

Acts 12:1-10

 

verse 1           In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the

                                    church to harm them.

 

Church is an assembly, here a particular assembly. The grammarian explains, “a regularly convened assembly; in NT the church whether as a congregation gathered for worship or as local Christian community or as the universal Church.”[7]

 

verse 5           Peter thus was being kept in prison,

                                    but prayer by the church was fervently being made

                                    to God on his behalf.

 

Verses 7-9 can be read with the sense that the very human Peter was not the brightest light on the block. I will not mention each element, except that he has to be told to tie his shoes before moving out. Compare Peter and Paul within the Church. Peter may not be bright enough to realize that I do not belong in the Church. So far as I am concerned, then Peter makes a better Pope. Paul would know very well that I do not belong in the Church and might not mind telling me as much either. Peter is the more loveable of the two, for all of his bumbling.

 

verse 7           Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him

                                    and a light shone in the cell.

                        He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,

                                    “Get up quickly.”

                        The chains fell from his wrists.

verse 8           The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”

                        He did so.

                        Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”

verse 9           So he followed him out,

                                    not realizing that what was happening through the angel was                                         real

                                    he thought he was seeing a vision.

 

We too go out into the world bumbling and stumbling unaware of how real the grace that is in us is.

 

Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

 

This Psalm is related not only to the angel just mentioned in Acts, but also to the Gospel according to Matthew. A scholar suggests that the theme of binding and loosing may infiltrate all of Matthew’s Gospel.[8] Psalm 34 has its share of binding and loosing.

 

verse 5           I sought the LORD, and he answered me

                                    and delivered me from all my fears.

 

verse 7           When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,

                                    and from all his distress he saved him.

 

verse 8           The angel of the LORD encamps

                                    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

 

Verse 8 is also the Responsorial Antiphon.

 

Psalm 34 is a wisdom psalm, not caught up “with adoration and stunned silence, with excitement and outrage,” but rather “with reflection and calm strength, with moderation and appreciation for the learning experience.”[9] Stuhlmueller suggests that the Jewish schoolmasters arranged the psalms so that the First Psalm is a wisdom psalm and other psalms, such as this, show gratitude for the ability to learn about knowing God.

 

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

 

verse 17b       And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

verse 18a-b   The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat

                                    and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.

 

Matthew 16:18

 

A scholar notes that “the disciples of the risen Jesus understood him to be the divinely empowered builder of God’s eschatological temple-community (Matt 16:18; Mark 14:58; 1 Cor 6:19)…”,[10] i.e. church.

 

Matthew 16:13-19

 

verse 13a       When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi

 

Caesarea Philippi is north of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem.[11]

 

verse 13b-c                he asked his disciples,

                                    “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

 

Matthew is preparing the reader for the Transfiguration.[12]

 

verse 16         Simon Peter said in reply,

                                    “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Son of the living God is a touch added by Matthew, not found in Mark. Matthew is caught up in Judaism and connecting Jesus with Jewish traditions,[13] e.g. “covenant fidelity, salvation history, and people of God.”[14]

 

verse 17         Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah

 

The grammarian observes that blessed may also be translated happy.[15]

 

This is real happiness, not like the blessedness of those in untoward circumstances in the Beatitudes.[16] I can also take this as a sort of goofy happiness, “Be happy, don’t worry,” appropriate to a Peter.

 

At a more reverential level, “it is only by revelation of God that one can truly know and confess the mystery of Jesus’ divine sonship (16:16-17; 11:27).”[17] After the resurrection, Jesus will still be with his church for purposes of continually interpreting what Jesus teaches, “time after time opening up new facets of God’s living, life-giving, eschatological law.”[18]

 

verse 18c                   and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

 

Scholars note that for the times, the netherworld is simply where the dead are, not hell. The grammarian writes, “regarded as synonymous with the powers of evil or with death.”[19]

 

Gates cause problems because gates are passive, letting in and out, loosing and unloosing, but not prevailing against anything. One sense is that the powers of evil are let loose from the netherworld to inhabit this world with people, that the battle is fought in the Church, not that the Church is a refuge from the battle.[20]

 

The grammarian comments,[21]

 

This picture of conflict may be interpreted in various ways: the gates of hell, subject to constant attack from the Church (whose mission is to save souls from sin and death), will not have the power to resist; or the powers of evil (or death) will not succeed in conquering the Church (which on this interpretation is the fortress under attack).

 

Verses 13-20 are important for the founding of the church.[22]

 

As one scholar notes:[23]

 

Amy-Jill Levine is confident that Matthew’s church was predominantly Jewish, yet she concedes that its members would think of themselves as neither “Jew” nor “Gentile,” for in the “New era of the ekklesia” those terms were “no longer operative”; she concludes that “the church is neither the new Israel nor the true Israel” and that “the new era belongs not to Israel at all, but to the ekklesia.”

 

 

verse 19         I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

                        Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

                                    and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

A scholar thinks this verse was only added after the resurrection; that these particular words were never directly spoken by Jesus.[24]

 

Matthew is writing for a Jerusalem-Jewish community, open to Gentiles. Matthew may have been composed in Caesarea Maritima, a place in which the Jewish community may have been eliminated because of a revolt in 66 AD. The Christian community itself, however, may well have survived as part of Caesarea. Caesarea was mainly a Gentile city. Significantly, Matthew places Peter on a plane suited for a monarchial episcopate,[25] a much higher plane than that accorded by Mark[26] who wrote in Rome, probably representing the thoughts of Peter.

 

The idea is that Jesus remains present in the church, as Peter is saved from Herod in Acts, the Psalmist sings of angelic protection, Timothy finding safety in the Lord, and Peter receiving the keys to the Kingdom of God in the Gospel.

 

 



[1] All indented verses 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).

 

[2] The Latin. Saint Jerome, and the Vulgate 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

 

[3] The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers: Volume One: From the First Sunday of Advent to Quinquagesima, tr. and ed. M. F. Toal, D.D. (P.O. Box 612, Swedesboro, NJ 08085: Preservation Press, 1996);  The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers: Volume Two: From the First Sunday in Lent to the Sunday after the Ascension, tr. and ed. M. F. Toal, D.D. (P.O. Box 612, Swedesboro, NJ 08085: Preservation Press, 1996); The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers: Volume Three: From Pentecost to the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, tr. and ed. M. F. Toal (P.O. Box 612, Swedesboro, NJ 08085: Preservation Press, 1996); The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers: A Manual of Preaching, Spiritual Reading and Meditation: Volume Four: From the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost to the Twenty-fourth and Last Sunday after Pentecost, tr. and ed. M. F. Toal, D.D. (P.O. Box 612, Swedesboro, NJ 08085: Preservation Press, 1996).

 

[4] 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 and Nestle-Aland: Greek-English New Testament: Greek text Novum Testamentum Graece, in the tradition of Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle edited by Barbara and Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger. English text 2nd Edition of the Revised Standard Version The Critical Apparatuses prepared and edited together with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Munster/Westphalia by Barbara and Kurt Aland (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 1998) Editio XXVII.

 

[5] 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) and Maximilian Zerwick, S.J., English Edition adapted from the Fourth Latin Edition by Joseph Smith, S.J., Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblico—114—Biblical Greek (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1994).

 

[6] Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginia Mariae, at http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2ROSAR.HTM, 10/16/02.

[7] 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), page 52.

 

[8] Lawrence M. Wills, “Scribal Methods in Matthew and Mishnah Abot,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 2 (April 2001), page 247, 248

 

[9] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the Psalms (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2002) ISBN 0-8146-2599, page 180.

 

[10] John M. Perry, The Three Days in the Synoptic Passion Predictions, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4 (October 1986), page 645.

 

[11] Standard Bible Atlas, 2nd edition (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing, 1997).

 

[12]. W. R. G. Loader, “Son of David, Blindness, Possession, and Duality in Matthew,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 4 (October, 1982) 583-584 and Brendan Byrne, S.J., Jesus as Messiah in the Gospel of Luke: Discerning a Pattern of correction,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 1 (January 2003) 87.

 

[13] W. R. G. Loader, “Son of David, Blindness, Possession, and Duality in Matthew,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 4 (October, 1982), pages 583-584. Also see Robert H. Stein, “The Matthew-Luke Agreements Against Mark: Insight from John," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 3 (July, 1992), page 497.

 

[14] B. T. Viviano, O.P., “Where Was the Gospel According to St. Matthew Written?" the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 4 (October 1979), page 539.

 

[15] 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), page 52.

 

[16] Mark Allan Powell, “The Magi as Kings: An Adventure in Reader-Response Criticism,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July 2000), page 470-469.

 

[17] Jack Dean Kingsbury, “Observations on the `Miracle Chapters’ of Mathew 8-9," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978), page 565.

 

[18] Joel Marcus, “The Gates of Hades and the Keys of the Kingdom (Matt 16:18-19),” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 3 (July, 1988), page 455.

 

[19] 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), page 52.

 

[20] Joel Marcus, “The Gates of Hades and the Keys of the Kingdom (Matt 16:18-19),” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 3 (July, 1988), page 443-446.

 

[21] 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), pages 52-53.

 

[22] Jack Dean Kingsbury, “Observations on the `Miracle Chapters’ of Mathew 8-9," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978), page 562.

 

[23] Douglas R. A. Hare, “How Jewish Is the Gospel of Matthew?” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 2 (April 2000), page 273, footnote 38 citing A.-J. Levine, Social and Ethnic Dimensions of Matthean Salvation History (1988), pages 10-11.

 

[24] Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., review of John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: Vol. 3, Companions and Competitors in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 4 (October 2002), page 772

 

[25] B. T. Viviano, O.P., “Where Was the Gospel According to St. Matthew Written?"" the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 4 (October 1979), page 539.

 

[26] Douglas R. A. Hare, “How Jewish Is the Gospel of Matthew?” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 2 (April 2000), page 267.