INTROAGAPE BIBLE STUDYGENERALCATENA AUREALIFE RECOVERY NOTES

Commentary on Readings for the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ (B)

SUNDAY READINGS PODCAST / GOSPEL PDF

Catholic Productions

This I command you…

In the Gospel of John, chapter 15, Jesus teaches that if we do not produce good works, we will be separated from him and thrown into the fire. And, that if we do bear fruit, we will be pruned in order to bear more fruit. Check out the video above with Dr. Brant Pitre to learn more about this topic and the implications of what Jesus is teaching.

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
FIRST READING
Exodus 24:3-8

God has made a covenant with us

  1. The reading from Exodus is the story of the sealing of the Sinai covenant.
  2. The Sinai covenant was sealed with two ceremonies: a meal and a blood rite.
  3. Each of these signified the sharing of life.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
SECOND READING
Hebrews 9:11-15

We will receive the promise of eternal salvation

  1. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews points out the difference between the old and new covenants.
  2. Christ’s blood was shed to reconcile and reunite humans and God.
  3. Jesus is the bond of the new covenant.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
GOSPEL
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

He took break, blessed and broke it

  1. The Gospel tells the story of the sealing of the new covenant.
  2. Mark associates the cup of wine with the blood covenant of old.
  3. At the Passover supper, Jesus shares a cup of wine with all the disciples.
  4. It is the true sign of the shared blood that seals the covenant.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor

Hearers of the Word

Dr. Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA

VIEW MULTI-PAGE PDF

Navarre Bible
Commentary on Sunday's Readings (PDF)

Click to access corpus-christi-b.pdf

Sources include The Jerome Biblical Commentary, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, and The Navarre Bible. In addition, Church History by Laux (TAN Books), Introduction to the Bible by Laux (TAN Books), A Guide to the Bible by Fuentes (Four Courts Press), and Sharing Our Biblical Story by Russell for background information. We also included quotations from The Faith of the Early Fathers (3 volumes) by Jergens and Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (many volumes) edited by Odum.
SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
Raymond E. Brown

Introduction to the New Testament

Second Reading in Context

Superiority of Jesus’ Sacrificial Ministry and the Heavenly Tabernacle, Inaugurating a New Covenant (Heb 8:1–10:18)

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Gospel Reading in Context

Anointing, Last Supper, Arrest, Trials, Crucifixion, Burial, EmptyTomb (Mark 14:1–16:8)

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Ave Maria Press

Catholic Scripture: A Catholic Study of God’s Word

Mark's Passion Narrative

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REGINALD H. FULLER

“This is My Blood-of-the-Covenant, which is Poured Out for Many”

EXCERPT: Three important words are spoken by Jesus in Mark’s account: (1) the bread word, (2) the cup word, and (3) the eschatological saying.

In the light of the first and second readings, exegesis today should concentrate upon the cup word: “This is my blood-of-the-covenant, which is poured out for many.”

The trend in contemporary scholarship is to regard this version as a later rewording of the cup word in 1 Corinthians 11 due to liturgical development.

Once the intervening meal had been brought forward to the beginning, and the bread and the cup consequently brought together at the end, the tendency was for the two sets of words to be assimilated. So we get: “This is my body. This is my blood.”

Mark’s tradition interprets the blood as the blood of the covenant on the background of Exodus 24. Thus, what the cup conveys is not a thing (blood) but a participation in the event of salvation history, the new covenant.

Visit liturgy.slu.edu for more resources to help you reflect on the spirituality of the scriptures before Mass.

 

Commentary on Readings for the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ (B)

RELATED: CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSIONS

Corpus Christi Processessions

When first established, this Solemnity was called Corpus Christi, Latin for “Body of Christ.” In the Middle Ages, Christians wanted to joyfully celebrate Jesus’s precious gift of the Eucharist in a solemnity that echoed Holy Thursday. The Church inaugurated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus in c. 1254, purposely choosing the spring of the year so congregations could use the good weather to hold processions, street fairs, and other outdoor events to express joy in the gift of the Eucharist. The faithful carried the precious Bread of the Lord’s Body outdoors under a canopy in processions with music, and the people joined in singing their favorite hymns of praise. Catholic communities still celebrate this Solemnity with processions and religious displays in Latin America and Europe.

SOURCE: Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission.

INTRODUCTION

Sharing in the life of Christ in the Blood of the Covenant

When we partake of the sacred meal of the Eucharist, we receive and celebrate the mysterious Presence of Jesus Christ within the community of the Church: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live in me and I in him, says the Lord” (communion antiphon). All the readings for this Solemnity are in the context of blood sacrifice and the Old Covenant feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread.

Redemption: Protestant vs. Catholic

Today’s remembrance of our redemption through the self-sacrificial offering of Jesus’s Body and Blood on the altar of the Cross is an appropriate time to recall what redemption means to a Catholic.

Protestants believe that God punished Jesus for the sins of humanity and that in Christ’s Passion, the Father saw not His divine Son but our sins and vented His wrath upon Jesus. This view of redemption is not what Catholic Christians believe.

  • Jesus did not serve as our penal substitute to receive the retributive punishment for countless lifetimes of sin since the fall of Adam and Eve.
  • God did not abandon Jesus to suffer the fullness of the damnation humankind had earned for itself. Jesus did not take on the sins of the world, literally becoming sin Himself.

If that were the case, Peter would not have called the Resurrected Christ “a spotless Lamb without blemish” (1 Pt 1:19), and Jesus could not have ascended to Heaven soiled by the sins of humanity.

Catholics believe redemption was always about love. The Father never loved the Son more than as He hung on the Cross. “God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son” to give His life for our salvation.

  •  Jesus was not our substitute; He was our representative.
  • He did not exempt us from suffering; instead, He endowed our suffering with meaning and divine power.
  • Christ’s sufferings are not punishments; they were the result of a pure and holy offering of love in obedience to the will of the Father that extended to every human in every age, including His persecutors.

Jesus’s act of divine love in offering up His Body and Blood on the Cross is what makes us a new creation in His Kingdom of the Church! See CCC 613616 and the book “What is Redemption?” by Father Philippe de la Trinite, published by Emmaus Road.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
First Reading

The Ratification of the Sinai Covenant

The First Reading recalls the covenant ratification ceremony at Mt. Sinai after the first Passover in Egypt led to the children of Israel’s liberation from slavery. In the Bible, covenant ratification ceremonies included oath swearing, sacrifice, and a sacred meal.

At Sinai, the Israelites swore their allegiance to obey Yahweh’s commands (Ex 24:3). They offered animals in communion sacrifices followed by sprinkling the animal’s blood on the altar of sacrifice (representing God), repeating the oath of obedience, and then sprinkling the remaining blood on the people (Ex 24:5-8). Sprinkling the sacrificial blood on the altar and the people united the Israelites to God as one covenant family, sharing “one blood” like all families. Then there was a sacred communion meal of peace and thanksgiving in the presence of God that sealed the covenant (Ex 24:9-11).

The name for the communion meal is Toda (Todah), meaning “thanksgiving” in Hebrew. The same elements are part of our New Covenant commitment. In the Mass, we swear an oath of allegiance to the Most Holy Trinity in our profession of faith. Then, Jesus transforms our offerings of bread and wine to become His Body and Blood and our sacrifice. Finally, we complete the covenant ceremony by eating the sacred communion meal of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist (a transliteration of Eucharistia, “thanksgiving,” in Greek), the New Covenant communion Toda, in the Divine Presence of the Most Holy Trinity.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
Responsorial Psalm

The Cup of Salvation

The Responsorial Psalm Reading is from one of the psalms the faithful sang during the Liturgy of the Passover worship service in the Jerusalem Temple. It recalls the Exodus liberation and Israel’s gratitude to God for the people’s salvation. The sacrifice of “thanksgiving” promised in verse 17 is the communion sacrifice of the Toda, the Eucharistia in Greek. The psalmist promises to show his gratitude for God’s salvation by participating in the Liturgy of worship in the presence of God and the covenant community.

The “cup of salvation” in verse 13 may refer to the blood ritual that signified atonement for the people’s sins when the chalice holding the blood of the sacrificed animal was either poured out, splashed, or sprinkled against God’s sacrificial altar (depending on the kind of blood ritual).

It could also refer to the ritual cup of wine consumed during the Toda (“thanksgiving”) communion meal with the meat of the sacrificed victim and unleavened bread, eaten within the Sanctuary in the presence of the God (Lev 7:11-15, 19b-20; Num 15:7-10).

It might also point to the third cup of the four communal cups of the sacred meal of the Passover victim on the first night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The third cup was the “Cup of Salvation/Redemption” or the “Cup of Blessing” as St. Paul identified the cup of Jesus’s precious Blood (1 Cor 10:16; St. Luke mentions two of the four ritual cups of wine in Lk 22:17-18 and 20). Therefore, verse 13 might point to the Christian Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
Second Reading

Jesus is the High Priest and Mediator of the New and Eternal Covenant

In the Second Reading, St. Paul writes about Jesus’s role as the New Covenant High Priest in the heavenly Temple. As our New Covenant High Priest, He does not offer the blood sacrifice of bulls or goats like the Jewish high priests of the Sinai Covenant. Instead, He provides His precious Blood to ratify the New Covenant of God with a “new Israel,” God’s people of the Universal Church of Christ’s eternal Kingdom (CCC 877).

Unlike the Old Covenant high priests whose ministerial service ended upon their deaths, Jesus’s priestly service begins with His self-sacrificial death and His Ascension to the heavenly Sanctuary. In Heaven, He begins His service as Priest-King and mediator of the New Covenant people of God (see Heb 8:6). According to Hebrews 9:15, the purpose of Jesus’s death on the altar of the Cross was to offer the one perfect sacrifice to deliver humanity from bondage to sin and death, a deliverance the first corporate covenant (the Sinai Covenant) was incapable of fulfilling. Because of the salvation made possible by Jesus’s death, “all those who are called” (verse 15) may receive the promise of eternal life. The point is that one must have faith to answer the call to grace to receive deliverance and the promised eternal inheritance.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
Gospel

The Sacred Meal of the Last Supper

The Gospel reading recalls the events on the night Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover victim in the sacred feast of the Last Supper.  At the meal, Jesus repeated Moses’ words at the ratification ceremony at Mt. Sinai (Ex 24:8) as He offered “the blood of the covenant” and passed the cup of His Precious Blood, becoming the covenant mediator of a new and eternal covenant promised by the prophet Jeremiah (Heb 9:13-15; Jer 31:31; 32:40; 50:5). Our sacred meal of the Eucharist not only looks back to Jesus’s Last Supper, but it also looks forward in time. At every Eucharistic meal, the faithful look forward to eternal life in the Presence of the Most Holy Trinity and the communion of Saints in the heavenly banquet of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and His Bride, the Church (Rev 19:6-9).

Prohibition against drinking blood of animals

The blood of a living creature was the means God provided for the atonement of humanity’s sins; therefore, consuming blood was a prohibition for the people of God, and the punishment for the violation of this prohibition was ex-communication (Lev 7:27; 17:14b). To drink the blood of animals as the pagans did was base and demeaning, but that was not His meaning. Jesus was inviting them to drink the glorified, supernaturally transformed Flesh and Blood of the Son of God as the means of elevating them to a share in His own divine life!

Drinking wine symbolized joy, festivity, abundance, and covenant union (Ps 4:8; 23:5b; Is 62:9; Mt 27:27-28; Lk 22:20). In offering His disciples what He identifies as His Body and Blood, Jesus fulfills what He preached in the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6:35-56.  He promised to give them the living bread that came down from heaven with the promise that whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world (Jn 6:51).  Jesus’s gift of Himself carries the promise: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him (Jn 6:54-56; see CCC 610-11).

Forgiveness of Sins

In the Penitential Rite of the Mass, we confess our venial sins and receive forgiveness through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God in the Eucharist (CCC 1393-95, 1414; mortal sins must be confessed and forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation).  It is then that we become cleansed and able to move from the Outer Courtyard of the Introduction Rites of the Mass and into the Holy Place of the Liturgy of the Word.

In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we move forward to receive Christ in the sacred meal of the Eucharist, entering the Holy of Holies of the Mass and the Presence of God. St. Paul warned the faithful that before receiving the Eucharist, one must come to the altar cleansed of sin and believe that Christ’s Body and Blood are present or risk condemnation by God’s judgment. He wrote, Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Cor 11:27-29).

The Priest in “Persona Christi”

In the Eucharistic banquet of the New Covenant faithful, after the priest in “Persona Christi” (in the Person of Christ) offers the Body and Blood of the Christ that is a genuine, pure, and holy sacrifice, the congregation moves forward toward the altar of sacrifice (spiritually mid-way between Heaven and earth) into God’s presence. The assembly of the faithful, while still on earth, joins the presence of Christ in the heavenly Sanctuary. The faithful eat a sacred communion meal in the Presence of God, just as Moses and Israel’s covenant representatives ate in the presence of God on the slopes of Mt. Sinai (Ex 24:9-11) and as Jesus’s disciples did at the Last Supper. Our sacred meal of the Eucharist looks back, remembering Jesus’s Last Supper, but it also looks forward, anticipating eternal life in the Presence of God when we will celebrate the communion of Saints in the heavenly banquet of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and His Bride, the Church (Rev 19:6-9). Until then, in the New Covenant Toda of the Eucharist’s sacred “thanksgiving” meal, we renew our commitment to our covenant with the Holy Trinity in the Body and Blood of the Living Christ.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

Commentary on Readings for the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ (B)

Feasting on the GOSPELS

Jacopo Tintoretto’s Painting of the Last Supper (1594)

IN THE PICTURE

The 1594 painting The Last Supper, by the Italian Renaissance artist Jacopo Tintoretto, bursts with images and seems to bustle with activity. Angels swoop from the ceiling signaling God’s presence. Jesus’ head is encircled by a bright gleaming halo, the age-old artist’s neon sign blinking “divinity.” Muted light encircles the heads of eleven of the disciples, although those junior halos would not keep them from falling away not long after the scene depicted. Some of the disciples watch Jesus attentively while others engage intently in conversation with each other. Judas, the lone disciple to cast no glow, perches awkwardly on the side of the table opposite all the others. The table runs at an angle from bottom left to top right of the painting, creating a more dynamic scene than depictions with a neatly centered table with poised and posed disciples symmetrically flanking Jesus. What I love most about the painting, though, is all of the additional activity in the room. Serving people busy themselves—some are immersed in their tasks, while others look over to the table where there is no place set for them. A cat pokes her nose into a basket of dishes. One servant is talking to a disciple who holds up his hands to halt the servant’s speech, presumably so the disciple can catch what Jesus is saying.

Despite the distance from us in millennia from the original event and centuries from the creation of the painting, it is easy to find one’s place in Tintoretto’s picture. Perhaps our experience of identification is different each time we ourselves approach the Lord’s Table. Sometimes we might experience the Lord’s Supper feeling aglow with the inner warmth of welcome and attentiveness to the moment. Even then, of course, like the disciples our faith is never perfect or complete, and we will fail the ones we love, despite our best intentions or most fervent protestations of loyalty and love. Surely there are times we find ourselves at the Lord’s Table not with a glow but with Judas’s glower, feeling guilty or inadequate or isolated from those around us. Sometimes we are the disciple who has to halt the distractions of others to attend to what Jesus would say to us, and other times we may be the ones doing the distracting. Some of us never feel as if we have a place at the Table and are looking on wistfully or immersed in tasks that keep us away from connection and communion with our loved ones or our Lord.

The painting is a reminder for us that even though our current administration of the sacrament of Communion may be neatly ordered, more akin to those symmetrical depictions of the Last Supper than Tintoretto’s lively scene, those currents of emotion, distraction, and different points of view swirl under the surface for those who approach the table or await Communion in the pews.

IN THE MOMENT

One is struck by a sense of immediacy in the painting. Each person present seems to be gripped by their experience of the moment. In our passage from Mark, there are no words institutionalizing Communion, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Those words come from elsewhere, in Matthew, Luke, and 1 Corinthians. In our passage, Jesus’ words have an immediacy, an urgency, an attentiveness to what each disciple is called to do right then, at that moment.

Theologically, of course, the sacrament of Communion will always bind together past and present and future in the name of the one who was and is and will come again. Pastorally, what might it mean to receive Communion attentive to the moment, not bound by betrayals past and to come, by flaws and failures, sins and shortcomings? Just to receive it as it was first given, after thanks and blessing, with the simplest instruction: take. Could we allow ourselves to be nourished so simply? It was attentiveness to the moment that had guided the woman with the alabaster jar to know what was right and needed in the moment (14:3–8). Did Jesus yearn for his followers to be present to the moment of taking bread and cup as well? Are we?

IN COMMUNITY

Jesus “took” the bread and instructed the disciples: “take.” Both Greek forms come from the verb lambanō. What associations might the Gospel writer have us make when we read that Jesus took the bread? Earlier in Mark we read, “And He took the five loaves and the two fish” (6:41 NASB); “Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves” (8:6 NRSV); and finally “Jesus took a little child and put it among them” (9:36). Bread and fish for the hungry, a child with no power or social standing, bread and cup in a Passover meal commemorating the flight from slavery to freedom: all were sign and symbol of God’s reign, a foretaste of the realm in which all are fed, children are welcomed, and all are free.

Today, when we leave the institutionalized, sacramental administration of Communion, how might we be attentive to other kinds of communion, opportunities to participate in God’s reign and invite others to experience God’s reign? Will we connect our Communion with the communion we experience when we work to see that those who are hungry are fed? Will we experience more deeply Communion when we recognize that children—even without power or social standing—point the way to God’s reign, and that whenever we welcome the child we welcome Christ and the one who sent him? Will we look for situations today where God’s power and the courageous leadership of God’s people are needed to bring others out of bondage into freedom, and be nourished for that work in community by our Communion?

Wherever we are in the picture, wherever we are in our faith journeys, Jesus invites us to be in the moment, present to the foretaste of God’s reign in which none is hungry and all receive as a child, with the simplest of instructions, of invitations: take.

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS. All rights reserved.
Feasting on the GOSPELS

The Importance of Making Preparations

GOSPEL: As we read and hear this text, we are reminded that doing all we can to prepare ourselves for our own journeys of faith is essential. There are elements of preparation many Christians undertake in Lent or during other pivotal spiritual journeys. The persons who sit in our worship services are likely in a variety of places on their paths to faithfulness. Some present will still be questioning the path before them; others will be further along their journey of faith, but still have concerns or doubts; while still others will be quite mature in their beliefs. In preaching this text, one must be aware that all of those present are called to grow in faith, to prepare over and over again to encounter Christ, and must strive to follow the teachings of Jesus in daily living, even when they are not as clear as the instructions in this text.

In preparing for this meal, the disciples have a number of tasks to complete. We too make preparations. Some of them are simple, like placing items at the ready for the next day’s activities. For extended international travel, some persons pack an array of items, including electrical adapters, accessories for our myriad gadget needs, and clothing for various occasions. Some are preparing for health procedures or for family transitions. We follow the pre-op instructions to get the best from the procedure. We do all we can to prepare our kids for a new addition to the family. Whatever the reason, preparations are necessary.

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS. All rights reserved.
CHRIST-CENTERED EXPOSITION COMMENTARY

“The First Supper”

GOSPEL: Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “He who would learn to serve must first learn to think little of himself.” And he quoted Thomas à Kempis as saying, “This is the highest and most profitable lesson, truly to know and despise ourselves” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 94). Jesus has already served His disciples on their last night together by washing their feet (John 13:1-20). Now He serves them again as He institutes what we call “the Last Supper” (cf. Matt 26:26-29; Luke 22:18-20; 1 Cor 10:14-22; 11:17-34).

However, we could also refer to it as “the First Supper,” as it inaugurates the “new covenant” (Jer 31:31-34; Luke 22:20), which God made with us through the Lord Jesus, the true Passover Lamb who had been sacrificed for us (1 Cor 5:7). His death made possible a new and greater exodus (see Luke 9:31), as we are set free from our slavery to sin.

SOURCE: Christ-Centered Exposition
PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

Cleansed to Serve

SECOND READING: The typewriter I am presently using is one that I have had for nearly twenty-five years, an old SCM electric. I love it, but it is in need of a good cleaning and some repair. On these cold mornings in Washington where we have just had a record cold wave, some of the keys double or triple strike; the margin stop does not hold as it should, so I must return the carriage by hand. After it is cleansed and repaired, what will I do with it—put it upon the mantle for display? No, I’ll joyfully take it to the special typing table beside my large desk with the bookshelves above containing all my reference works. It will be part of a work area specially designed for sermon preparation and writing. This area is separated by the width of the study from another area specially designed for finances and flying materials. The typewriter has a very special task that no other piece of equipment can fulfill. My purpose for having it cleaned is that it can be used productively.

God has a work area specially designed for you, and once He has cleansed your conscience by the blood of Christ and witnessed to you that the way is open to Him at all times of day or night, then He desires to prepare you for your unique task in the kingdom. Nobody can take that place; each of us has his or her own place that will require every ounce of our energy and more. Cleansed to serve—that is the name of the game!

SOURCE: THe Preacher’s Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God’s Word.
Feasting on the Word

The Image of Sacrifice

SECOND READING: A sermon could begin by pointing out the metaphorical use of the word in our sacramental life, moving beyond a literal interpretation. What do we mean when we say we offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God? What self-understandings, what habits, what attitudes, do we surrender when we offer ourselves as a holy and living sacrifice to God? Is our sacrifice, in fact, a celebration? In a society that more and more focuses on personal happiness defined by external criteria—wealth, possessions, status, power—how do we understand ourselves as Christians? What is required of us as members of the Christian community? What do we gain by being part of such a community? What do we lose? The discussion could also focus on the demands made by family life, again asking what we surrender and what we gain when we become parents.

The image of sacrifice might also be explored in terms of our corporate life. How are we challenged to respond to the pressing needs of the world around us? As a church and as a nation, what are our responsibilities to the rest of the world? Are we as Christians required, for example, to make sacrifices to alleviate the injustice caused by massive extreme poverty? If so, what would such sacrifices look like, and how might we make them? Surely, if the predicted catastrophes caused by global warming are to be averted, those of us in the developed world will have to make sacrifices. What can we do as individuals and as a church to help the people in our communities and in the nation at large understand the imperative to make these sacrifices? What actions should we support and which can we initiate?

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Niell Donavan

First Reading

NO EXEGESIS AVAILABLE FOR EX 24:3-8

Second Reading

Gospel Reading

SOURCE: Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

Year B: Gospel of Mark

Mark: Christ Centered Exposition Commentary

Mark: A Reader-Response Commentary

Mark: A Theme Based Approach

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Commentary on Readings for the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ (B)

Catena Aurea

Mark 14:12-16

12. And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover?

13. And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him.

14. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples?

15. And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.

16. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover.

Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria
The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.

COMMENTARY

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Whilst Judas was plotting how to betray Him, the rest of the disciples were taking care of the preparation of the Passover: wherefore it is said, And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare where thou mayest eat the Passover.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) He means by the first day of the Passover the fourteenth day of the first month, when they threw aside leaven, and were wont to sacrifice, that is, to kill the lamb at even. The Apostle explaining this says, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. (1 Cor. 5:7) For although He was crucified on the next day, that is, on the fifteenth moon, yet on the night when the lamb was offered up, He committed to His disciples the mysteries of His Body and Blood, which they were to celebrate, and was seized upon and bound by the Jews; thus He consecrated the beginning of His sacrifice, that is, of His Passion.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But the unleavened bread which was eaten with bitterness, that is with bitter herbs, is our redemption, and the bitterness is the Passion of our Lord.

THEOPHYLACT. From the words of the disciples, Where wilt thou that we go? it seems evident that Christ had no dwelling-place, and that the disciples had no houses of their own; for if so, they would have taken Him thither.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For they say, Where wilt thou that we go? to shew us that we should direct our steps according to the will of God. But the Lord points out with whom He would eat the Passover, and after His custom He sends two disciples, which we have explained above; wherefore it goes on, And he sendelh forth two of his disciples, and he saith unto them, Go ye into the city.

THEOPHYLACT. He sends two of His disciples, that is, Peter and John, as Luke says, to a man unknown to Him, implying by this that He might, if He had pleased, have avoided His Passion. For what could not He work in other men, who influenced the mind of a person unknown to Him, so that he received them? He also gives them a sign how they were to know the house, when He adds, And there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. ii. 80) Mark says a pitcher, Luke a two-handled vessel; one points out the kind of vessel, the other the mode of carrying it; both however mean the same truth.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) And it is a proof of the presence of His divinity, that in speaking with His disciples, He knows what is to take place elsewhere; wherefore it follows, And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them; and they made ready the Passover.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Not our Passover, but in the meanwhile that of the Jews; but He did not only appoint ours, but Himself became our Passover. Why too did He eat it? Because He was made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, (Gal. 4:4) and Himself give rest to the Law. And lest any one should say that He did away with it, because He could not fulfil its hard and difficult obedience, He first Himself fulfilled it, and then set it to rest.

PSEUDO-JEROME. And in a mystical sense the city is the Church, surrounded by the wall of faith, the man who meets them is the primitive people, the pitcher of water is the law of the letter.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, the water is the laver of grace, the pitcher points out the weakness of those who were to shew that grace to the world.

THEOPHYLACT. He who is baptized carries the pitcher of water, and he who bears baptism upon him comes to his rest, if he lives according to his reason; and he obtains rest, as being in the house. Wherefore it is added, Follow him.

PSEUDO-JEROME. That is, him who leads to the lofty place, where is the refreshment prepared by Christ. (John 21:15) The lord of the house is the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord has entrusted His house, that there may be one faith under one Shepherd. The large upper-room is the wide-spread Church, in which the name of the Lord is spoken of, prepared by a variety of powers and tongues.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, the large upper-room is spiritually the Law, which comes forth from the narrowness of the letter, and in a lofty place, that is, in the lofty chamber of the soul, receives the Saviour. But it is designedly that the names both of the bearer of the water, and of the lord of the house, are omitted, to imply that power is given to all who wish to celebrate the true Passover, that is, to be embued with the sacraments of Christ, and to receive Him in the dwelling-place of their mind.

THEOPHYLACT. Or else, the lord of the house is the intellect, which points out the large upper room, that is, the loftiness of intelligences, and which, though it be high, yet has nothing of vain glory, or of pride, but is prepared and made level by humility. But there, that is, in such a mind Christ’s Passover is prepared by Peter and John, that is by action and contemplation.


Mark 14:22-25

22. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

23. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.

24. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

25. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

COMMENTARY

BEDE. (ubi sup.) When the rites of the old Passover were finished, He passed to the new, in order, that is, to substitute the Sacrament of His own Body and Blood, for the flesh and blood of the lamb. Wherefore there follows: And as they did eat, Jesus took bread; that is, in order to shew that He Himself is that person to whom the Lord swore, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec. (Ps. 110:4) There follows: And blessed, and brake it.

THEOPHYLACT. That is, giving thanks, He brake it, which we also do, with the addition of some prayers.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) He Himself also breaks the bread, which He gives to His disciples, to shew that the breaking of His Body was to take place, not against His will, nor without His intervention; He also blessed it, because He with the Father and the Holy Spirit filled His human nature, which He took upon Him in order to suffer, with the grace of Divine power. He blessed bread and brake it, because He deigned to subject to death His manhood, which He had taken upon Him, in such a way as to shew that there was within it the power of Divine immortality, and to teach them that therefore He would the more quickly raise it from the dead. There follows: And gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

THEOPHYLACT. That, namely, which I now give and which ye take. But the bread is not a mere figure of the Body of Christ, but is changed into the very Body of Christ. For the Lord said, The bread which I give you is my flesh. But the flesh of Christ is veiled from our eyes on account of our weakness, for bread and wine are things to which we are accustomed, if however we saw flesh and blood we could not bear to take them. For this reason the Lord bending Himself to our weakness keeps the forms of bread and wine, but changes the bread and wine into the reality of His Body and Blood.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Even now also that Christ is close to us; He who prepared that table, Himself also consecrates it. For it is not man who makes the offerings to be the Body and Blood of Christ, but Christ who was crucified for us. The words are spoken by the mouth of the Priest, and are consecrated by the power and the grace of God. By this word which He spoke, This is my body, the offerings are consecrated; and as that word which says, Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, (Gen. 1:28) was sent forth but once, yet has its effect throughout all time, when nature does the work of generation; so also that voice was spoken once, yet gives confirmation to the sacrifice through all the tables of the Church even to this day, even to His advent.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But in a mystical sense, the Lord transfigures into bread His body, which is the present Church, which is received in faith, is blessed in its number, is broken in its sufferings, is given in its examples, is taken in its doctrines; and He forms His Blood (formans sanguinem suum ap. Pseudo-Hier.) in the chalice of water and wine mingled together, that by one we may be purged from our sins, by the other redeemed from their punishment. For by the blood of the lamb our houses are preserved from the smiting of the Angel, and our enemies perish in the waters of the Red sea, which are the sacraments of the Church of Christ. Wherefore it goes on: And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them. For we are saved by the grace of the Lord, not by our own deserts.

GREGORY. (Mor. ii. 37) When His Passion was approaching, He is said to have taken bread and given thanks. He therefore gave thanks, who took upon Him the stripes of other men’s wickedness; He who did nothing worthy of smiting, humbly gives a blessing in His Passion, to shew us, what each should do when beaten for his own sins, since He Himself bore calmly the stripes due to the sin of others; furthermore to shew us, what we who are the subjects of the Father should do under correction, when He who is His equal gave thanks under the lash.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The wine of the Lord’s cup is mixed with water, because we should remain in Christ and Christ in us. For on the testimony of John, the waters are the people, and it is not lawful for any one to offer either wine alone, or water alone, lest such an oblation should mean that the head may be severed from the members, and either that Christ could suffer without love for our redemption, and that we can be saved or be offered to the Father without His Passion. (Apoc. 17:15) It goes on: And they all drank of it.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Happy intoxication, saving fulness, which the more we drink gives the greater sobriety of mind!

THEOPHYLACT. Some say that Judas did not partake in these mysteries, but that he went out before the Lord gave the Sacrament. Some again say that He gave him also of that Sacrament.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) For Christ offered His blood to him who betrayed Him, that he might have remission of his sins, if he had chosen to cease to be wicked.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Judas therefore drinks and is not satisfied, nor can he quench the thirst of the everlasting fire, because he unworthily partakes of the mysteries of Christ. There are some in the Church whom the sacrifice does not cleanse, but their foolish thought draws them on to sin, for they have plunged themselves in the stinking slough of cruelty.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Let there not be therefore a Judas at the table of the Lord; this sacrifice is spiritual food, for as bodily food, working on a belly filled with humours which are opposed to it, is hurtful, so this spiritual food if taken by one polluted with wickedness, rather brings him to perdition, not by its own nature, but through the fault of the recipient. Let therefore our mind be pure in all things, and our thought pure, for that sacrifice is pure. There follows: And he said unto them, This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) This refers to the different circumstances of the Old Testament, which was consecrated by the blood of calves and of goats; and the lawgiver said in sprinkling it, This is the blood of the Testament which God hath injoined unto you. (Heb. 9:20. vide Ex. 24:8) It goes on: Which is shed for many.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For it does not cleanse all. It goes on: Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

THEOPHYLACT. As if He had said, I will not drink wine until the resurrection; for He calls His resurrection the kingdom, as He then reigned over death. But after His resurrection He ate and drank with His disciples, shewing that it was He Himself who had suffered. But He drank it new, that is, in a new and strange manner, for He had not a body subject to suffering, and requiring food, but immortal and incorruptible. We may also understand it in this way. The vine is the Lord Himself, by the offspring1 of the vine is meant mysteries, and the secret understanding, which He Himself begets2, who teaches man knowledge. But in the kingdom of God, that is, in the world to come, He will drink with His disciples mysteries and knowledge, teaching us new things, and revealing what He now hides.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, Isaiah testifies that the synagogue is called the vine or the vineyard of the Lord, saying, The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel. (Is. 5:7) The Lord therefore when about to go to His Passion, says, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, as if He had said openly, I will no longer delight in the carnal rites of the synagogue, in which also these rites of the Paschal Lamb have held the chief place. For the time of my resurrection shall come, that day shall come, when in the kingdom of heaven, that is, raised on high with the glory of immortal life, I will be filled with a new joy, together with you, for the salvation of the same people born again of the fountain of spiritual grace.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But we must consider that here the Lord changes the sacrifice without changing the time; so that we never celebrate the Cæna Domini before the fourteenth moon. He who celebrates the resurrection on the fourteenth moon, will celebrate the Cæna Domini on the eleventh moon, which was never done in either Old or New Testament.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

Commentary on Readings for the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ (B)

First Reading

Counting the Cost of Commitment

Exodus 24:3
Then Moses announced to the people all the laws and regulations God had given him; and the people answered in unison, “We will obey them all.”

New Living Translation (Hover cursor above the scripture reference to read the NRSV version)

EX 24:1-8 Although Israel’s response to God’s covenant was the same as before (see 19:8), they were now beginning to “count the cost” of their commitment to God. At this point they were called upon to make sacrifices to him. As they heard the cries of the animals being slaughtered and saw the sacrificial blood being splashed against the altar, surely they were reminded of how costly their redemption from Egypt had been.

It was a clear reminder of God’s gracious forgiveness, for God allowed these animals to die as payment for the people’s infractions of the law. We should feel similar gratitude as we think of Jesus on the cross and realize that we are the ones who should have been there.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Psalm

Giving God Credit

Psalm 116:17
I will worship you and offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

PS 116:10-19 We will never be able to repay God for what he has done for us. But we can at least show our gratitude by fulfilling the promises we made to him when we called out to him for help. God thinks of us as his precious children, so we should thank him by keeping our promises to him. This may include making sure everyone knows it is God who deserves the credit for our deliverance.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Second Reading

Once and for All

Hebrews 9:12
and once for all took blood into that inner room, the Holy of Holies, and sprinkled it on the mercy seat; but it was not the blood of goats and calves. No, he took his own blood, and with it he, by himself, made sure of our eternal salvation.

HEB 9:11-15 There was absolutely no comparison between the ongoing sacrifices of the earthly Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrifice provided by Christ, our great High Priest and mediator. Christ accomplished what the Old Testament sacrificial system never could—once and for all, he completed redemption.

Trusting the work that Christ did is the only way to have complete forgiveness, a clear conscience, and eternal life. Now when we put our faith in Christ, we are free to joyfully know and serve God.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Gospel

Betraying God

Mark 14:18
and as they were sitting around the table eating, Jesus said, “I solemnly declare that one of you will betray me, one of you who is here eating with me.”

MK 14:10-26 We are often shocked by Judas’s betrayal of Jesus. Since Judas had spent about three years in close friendship with Jesus, we wonder what could have prompted him to act as he did.

Yet if we are truly honest with ourself, we may see the same potential in our own heart. Whenever we refuse to give Jesus authority over a certain area of our life, we act like Judas. Whenever we promise to do one thing and then do another, we act like Judas. We all have betrayed God in some way or another. We should use Judas’s failure as an opportunity to take a hard look at our own life. In what ways are we betraying God?

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
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