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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Commentary on the sunday readings for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

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FIRST READING

Ezekiel 17:22-24

I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit.

  1. Twice we hear the words “I will plant.”
  2. God makes promises and keeps them.
  3. God will rebuild the Davidic dynasty; then people will know that God can restore a people’s destiny.
  4. What God restores will put forth branches and bear fruit.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Walk by faith and not by sight

  1. The Apostle uses the word “home” to explain how we really belong to Christ instead of the world where we live and work.
  2. The Lord is the distant homeland, believed in, but unseen.
  3. At judgment, we will be revealed as we truly are.
  4. We shall be valued not by our earthly monuments but by our imitation of the Lord who emptied himself and left behind no earthly possessions.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
GOSPEL

Mark 4:26-34

Through Jesus will come the Kingdom of God

  1. Only Mark records this parable of the seed’s growth.
  2. Here are two parables about growth from seed to full blooming plant. Sower and harvester are the same.
  3. The Kingdom of God develops quietly yet powerfully until it is fully bloomed.
  4. The Kingdom of God was initiated by Jesus.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor

Catholic Productions

Dr. Brant Pitre

VIDEO: Mass Readings Explained
SOURCE: The Mass Readings Explained | Intro
Hearers of the Word

Dr. Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA

VIDEO Commentary
PDF Commentary (5 pages)
SOURCE: Hearers of the Word
Navarre Bible
Commentary on Sunday's Readings (PDF)

Click to access 11-ordinary-time-year-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

Imagery in 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10

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Gospel Reading in Context

Collection of Parables and Parabolic Sayings Pertinent to the Kingdom of God (Mark 4:1–34)

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Ave Maria Press

A Catholic Study of God’s Word

Parables in Mark

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saint louis university

Get to Know the Readings

PREACHING THE LECTIONARY by Reginald Fuller

FIRST READING: Ezekiel’s allegory of the cedar tree is a source of the imagery of the mustard bush in the gospel reading.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: This psalm of thanksgiving is preoccupied with the theme of moral retribution.

SECOND READING: If we receive a reward for our good works, this reward is not a prize for good behavior but the fulfillment of our human destiny.

GOSPEL: It is most important to avoid interpreting this parable by emphasizing the idea of growth, appealing though that may be to modern botanical knowledge and modern evolutionary ideology.

RELATED COMMENTARY:

SPIRITUALITY OF THE READINGS

Visit liturgy.slu.edu for more resources (e.g PRAYING TOWARD SUNDAY, MUSIC OF SUNDAY, GENERAL INTERCESSIONS) to help you reflect on the spirituality of the scriptures before Mass.

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

INTRODUCTION

The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is the Fruit of the Tree of Hope and Life

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus tells two parables to explain the growth of His Kingdom: the Parable of the Seed that Grows Itself (only found in Mark’s Gospel) and the Parable of the Mustard Seed. From a small beginning, Jesus’s Kingdom of the Universal Church grew to cover the earth, providing shelter, refuge, and comfort to peoples from all nations and allowing them to have a part in God’s Divine Plan for humanity. We come to realize that the Cross of Jesus Christ is the true Tree of Life prefigured by the life-giving tree in the sanctuary of the Garden of Eden. What began as a seed of hope planted by the merits of Christ Jesus on the altar of the Cross has grown to become Jesus’s sanctuary of the Kingdom of the Universal Church that offers refuge and the hope of a future beyond the present earth-bound life in His heavenly Kingdom.

Concerning the part God offers faithful Christians to fulfill in His divine plan, the Church’s Catechism teaches: “God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out, he also makes use of his creatures’ cooperation. This use is not a sign of weakness but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus cooperation in the accomplishment of his plan” (CCC 306).

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

The Parable of the Shoot from the Cedar Tree

In 2 Samuel 7:8-29, God made an unconditional and eternal covenant with His servant David.  He promised David that his throne and kingdom would endure forever (also, see 2 Sam 23:5; 1 Kng 2:4; 2 Chr 13:5; Sir 45:25). But the Davidic kings became arrogant and took the promise of David’s eternal covenant to mean there was no limit to their exercise of royal power. They began to think of themselves as the people’s masters rather than God’s servants. They forgot God’s warning to David that He would chastise the Davidic heirs when they needed correction like a human father disciplines his son (2 Sam 7:14). That chastisement began after Solomon’s excesses when God took ten tribes away from Solomon’s Davidic heir to humble the House of David (1 Kng 11:11-13; 12:31-39). God did this to punish the line of David, but not forever (1 Kng 11:39). The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel foretold that God would restore Israel under a Messianic king from the Davidic line. The promised Davidic king would restore the withered kingdom to bloom again in righteousness (i.e., Is 9:1-6; 11:1-5; Jer 23:5-6; Ez 34:23-24; 37:24-28). Jesus the Messiah (meaning of the Greek word Christos), son of David/Son of God, fulfilled the promise of the eternal Davidic Covenant in His Kingdom of the Universal (Catholic) Church (Mt 1:1, 16; Lk 1:31-32).


The symbolic imagery in Ezekiel’s parable:

  1. The cedar tree is the House of David (verse 22a).
  2. The “tender shoot” is the Davidic Messiah (verse 22b).
  3. The “tender shoot” planted on a high mountain in Israel is Jesus on the Cross outside the gates of Jerusalem, a city 2,500 feet above sea level, located on Mt. Moriah (verse 23a).
  4. The “tree” that grew from the “shoot” is the Church of Jesus Christ (verse 23b).
  5. The “trees of the field” are all the people of the earth (verse 24a).
  6. To bring low the “high” and “green tree” is the humbling of the wealthy, proud, and arrogant, while the lifting up of the “lowly” and “withered tree” is the salvation of the humble and dispossessed (verse 24b).
  7. God’s divine plan is for the Church of Jesus Christ to surpass the Kingdom of David and become a new Kingdom of a new creation that will offer shelter to the peoples of all nations and have dominion over all the earth (verse 24c).

For the covenant people, Ezekiel’s prophecy was proof that God had not forgotten His eternal covenant with the House of David. Jesus, the Davidic Messiah, is the “tender shoot” “planted” on the “high and lofty mountain” of Moriah in the city of Jerusalem, where the wood of the Cross became a “tree of hope.” The Cross of Jesus Christ is not a sign of death but life that “puts forth branches and bears fruit.” The “fruit” the Cross bears is the gift of salvation for all peoples of the earth who, like “birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs” (Ez 17:23).

In verse 23, the imagery turns from the wood of a tree, a symbol of Jesus’s Cross, to the Kingdom of the Church that will become a refuge and sanctuary for people from every nation on earth.  The reference to a shelter for “all the birds of the air” recalls:

  1. the birds seeking salvation in Noah’s Ark in Genesis 7:13-14
  2. the many nations that were part of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Kingdom in Daniel 2:38
  3. Jesus’s Parable of the Mustard Seed in Mark 4:32 (today’s Gospel Reading)
Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
Responsorial Psalm

Give Thanks to the Lord

The cedars of Lebanon in verse 13 were known for their beauty and strength. The builders of the Jerusalem Temple and Solomon’s palace used cedars in their construction (1 Kng 6:9-7, 15-18; 7:1-2). Mentioning cedars in verse 13 provides a segway into the next verse expressing the desire of the psalmist to remain in the Temple, staying near God. Like healthy trees, the righteous bear the “fruit” of righteousness even in old age because God never fails the upright (verses 15-16).

This psalm recalls the prophet Simeon, an elderly, righteous man devoted to the Temple Liturgy of worship: It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord (Lk 2:26). God rewarded Simeon’s devotion when the Holy Spirit sent him to the Temple on the day Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, referring to His dedication as a “firstborn” son (Lk 2:27Ex 13:212). Simeon took baby Jesus in his arms, blessed God, and said: for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Lk 2:30-32).

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

Have Courage as you Prepare to Join the Lord

St. Paul reminds Christians that the world is not our home, and our bodies are only temporal vessels since our destiny is to be united with Jesus in Heaven. And yet, while we are still part of this earthly existence, we must strive to please Christ in our words and deeds. The day will come when Jesus will judge our actions for good or evil (Mt 25:31-46).

Vatican II advises us to consider our obligations to the earthly Jerusalem of the Church that will lead to our citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem that is our future home. In Gaudium et spes, the Council urged:

“Christians, as citizens of both cities, to perform their duties faithfully in the spirit of the Gospel. It is a mistake to think that, because we have here no lasting city, but seek the city which is to come (cf. Heb 13:14), we are entitled to shirk our responsibilities, this is to forget that, by our faith, we are bound all the more to fulfill these responsibilities according to the vocation of each one (cf. 2 Thess 3:6-13; Eph 4:28).  […]. The Christian who shirks his temporal duties shirks his duties toward his neighbor, neglects God himself and endangers his eternal salvation” (Gaudium et spes, 43).

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

The Parables of the Seed that Grows Itself

JESUS' SEVEN KINGDOM PARABLES

Jesus’ Kingdom Parables

The Parable of the Seed that Grows Itself is one of Jesus’s “Kingdom Parables” that describe His coming Kingdom of the Church. There are seven “Kingdom Parables” in Matthew Chapter 13:

  1. The Parable of the Seed and the Sower and its explanation (Mt 13:4-9, 18-23)
  2. The Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat and its explanation (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43)
  3. The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mt 13:31-32)
  4. The Parable of the Yeast (Mt 13:33)
  5. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Mt 13:44)
  6. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (Mt 13:45-46)
  7. The Parable of the Dragnet (Mt 13:47-50)

See the commentary on these parables in the Agape Bible study on the Gospel of Matthew, Lesson 16.


Parable Unique to Mark

The “Kingdom Parable” of the “Seed that Grows Itself” only appears in Mark’s Gospel, but St. James may refer to it in James 5:7-9. The parable’s focus is the seed’s power to sprout and grow “of its own accord” after the sower has liberally scattered it across his field. It is a mystery to the farmer how this happens, and he knows that he cannot control the growing process. In this modern age, scientists can provide chemicals to increase the yield, and they can describe what happens in seed germination and growth, but the cause of germination and growth remains a mystery even today.

Three Stages of Growth in the Parable:

  1. The blade appears.
  2. Then, the ears appear.
  3. Finally, there is the fully developed grain.

When the grain is fully developed, it is time for the harvest, and the farmer is ready with his sickle to reap the crop. In the Bible, “the harvest” is a symbolic image for judgment, especially concerning the Last or Final Judgment (see Joel 4:13; Mt 13:39-43; Rev 14:14-15). All human beings of every age of humanity will face two judgments in the eschatological “harvest” of souls.  When one dies, there is an Individual or Particular Judgment where every person will be rewarded according to his works and faith (Mt 16:26; Lk 16:22; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23; CCC 1021-22). However, there is also a Last or Final Judgment that all humanity will receive at the end of time when Christ will return in glory “to judge the living and the dead” (Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed; Mt 25:31-46; Jn 5:28-29; Acts 12:15; 1 Thes 4:16; 2 Thes 1:8-10; CCC 681, 1038-41).

Symbolism in the Parable of the Seed that Grows Itself
The land The Kingdom of God (the Church).
The seed The word of God “planted” in the fertile hearts of the children of the Kingdom.
The fruit of the seed The good works of Christians that will develop and bear “fruit” through the process of spiritual growth and maturity.
The harvest The gathering of souls into God’s “storehouse” of Heaven after applying the “sickle” of divine judgment.

The growth of the Kingdom of God is a divine act that defies human understanding. St. Paul will refer to this supernatural phenomenon when he writes about his work and the work of a fellow laborer for the Gospel: I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.  Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth (1 Cor 3:6-7).

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

The Parables of the Mustard Seed

The allusion to the kingdom becoming so large that birds of the sky come to dwell in the shade of its branches is probably a reference to the Prophet Ezekiel’s Parable of the Cedar Tree in the First Reading (Ez 17:23). The imagery also recalls the birds of the sky who sought salvation in Noah’s Ark (Gen 7:13-14) and King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in which he saw a huge tree that sheltered “the birds of the sky” and other animals (Dan 4:7-9). In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel interpreted the tree and the animals to represent Nebuchadnezzar’s vast kingdom and the many different peoples over whom he ruled (Dan 2:17-19). The comparison is to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ that will offer the salvation of a new creation and become a greater kingdom than the Babylonians (see Dan 9:17-19).

Symbolism in the Parable of the Mustard Seed
The tiny mustard seed The small beginnings of the Kingdom (Church) of Jesus Christ
The mustard seed planted in the earth Jesus plants the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of all who accept His message
The amazing growth of the mustard plant The tremendous growth of the Kingdom of the Church nurtured by the Holy Spirit
The large branches and the creatures that dwell in its shade The spread of the Church across the face of the earth, forming many communities (branches) and calling all men and women of every ethnicity to salvation in Christ Jesus
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2014

Jesus’s Kingdom is the universal (meaning of the word “Catholic) Church that gives refuge and comfort to the people of all nations of the earth who seek Jesus’ promise of salvation. Through the Kingdom of the Church, Jesus brought about God’s Divine Plan of salvation for humanity. For all people who seek His gift of liberation from sin and death, Jesus offers His sacrifice on the “tree” of the altar of the Cross. The Cross is the true “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of Hope” for all peoples.  When we live within the fullness of faith in the shadow of the Cross in the sheltering “branches” of the Church’s faith communities, we thrive. We live in the Spirit of Truth and bear the fruit of righteousness that is pleasing to God in our unselfish love of God and neighbor. We must remember what St. Paul taught: The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18). Do not miss the significant present tense in St. Paul’s message, “being saved.” Never forget that salvation is an ongoing process!

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

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Feasting on the GOSPELS

The Mystery and Surprise of God

PARABLES AND THE POWER OF THE IMAGINATION

In using parables, Jesus seeks to stimulate his audience’s imagination so that they might perceive the power and presence of God in a new and immediate way. Believe it or not, sermons can be like that. They can help open windows to the biblical text, to ourselves, and to God. They can help open windows into our hearts and minds where invigorating and life-giving air can blow in and refresh our souls. This is not so much about the relevance of sermons as it is about stirring the imagination, affirming and connecting our individual and historical story with the larger story of God’s movement in our lives and in the life of the world. Jesus uses parables to say, “You count because God is in your life. Your life and your witness have energy and value because God has filled you with gifts.” The parables emphasize the positive and life-giving quality of those gifts as well as the negative and death-dealing edge that those gifts can take if we abuse them. In using parables, Jesus emphasizes the power of the imagination and describes it as even more important than the power of the will. (Nibs Stroupe)


GOSPEL: We live in an age when the mystery and surprise of all of life, including God’s power, are being squeezed out of our consciousness. This parable asks us not to close our imaginations too quickly, because there is a dynamic, vital power that is mysteriously beyond our comprehension and our grasp. In this parable, Jesus suggests that history has been made ready, just as fields are readied to be planted. Through the life of Israel and its prophets, through the prophecy of John the Baptizer, the world has been made ready, and now God’s reign has burst on the stage of history in the life of Jesus.

If the reign of God has burst into history, why does history seem so nonchalant about it? Jesus uses the second parable to speak to this. The mustard seed was a common metaphor in Palestine for “the smallest thing.” The plant could grow as tall as a house, and birds seemed to love its little black seeds. Like the mustard seed, the followers of Jesus are a bunch of ragged folk, full of doubts, full of fears, unable to comprehend much of what Jesus says or does. The reign of God bursting into history rests on these kinds of folk? Jesus emphasizes, “Yes, this is the scruffy seed from which the reign of God will be proclaimed.” Once again he lifts up the grace and power of God taking the smallest seed and transforming it into the great plant that provides sustenance for all. It is at once a humbling parable and an exhilarating parable for the followers of Jesus.

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS. All rights reserved.
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Mark 4:26-34

Mark: Christ Centered Exposition Commentary - What Do We Learn About Jesus and His Kingdomfrom a Lamp, a Bunch of Seeds,and One Small Seed?

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Mark: A Reader-Response Commentary - Images That Reveal and Conceal (Mark 4.2, 33-34)

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Mark: A Theme Based Approach - Detailed Analysis of Mark 4:26-34
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Feasting on the GOSPELS

Jesus Told So Many Parables He Became One

GOSPEL: “Jesus told so many parables he became one.” I do not know the origin of that phrase, but it seems apt for reflection on this part of Mark 4. For here in these well-known parables we confront how the teaching and the life of Jesus were one. Yet the parables remain what they are: continually breaking open our understanding of the reign of God. Elusive yet pointed, indirect yet powerfully relevant—like the very kingdom Jesus brings.

While Mark does not present, as do Matthew and Luke, an extensive body of teachings, there can be little doubt that chapter 4 presents pointed examples and the reason for Jesus’ use of parables. The secret of the kingdom is contained in parabolic form. Of course even when Jesus explains the stories to the Twelve (and some others—4:10ff.) understanding requires more than the disciples themselves comprehend. All we have to think of is the pattern of the original disciples’ misunderstanding also recorded by Mark. Could the most profound parable of all be the whole life and death of Jesus? Do the disciples fail to understand this most powerful parable too?

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

There is a Certainty to the Growth of the Kingdom

MARK 4:28-29 — The Greek word automate¯ is fronted here for emphasis. It literally reads, “Automatically the earth bears fruit.” Once the process has begun, it is destined to be completed: blade, ear, grain, harvest. The process that brings about the fullness of the kingdom of God is not spectacular, but it is certain. Even now it is present and growing, whether or not you see it.

God did not design His kingdom to come like a tidal wave or a bolt of lightning, to come quickly and disappear quickly. No, God planted it in the coming of a Galilean peasant, a homeless man from Nazareth, who gathered about Him a bunch of nobodies. The ways of God are mysterious indeed, but He will be successful.

The “sickle” is often a symbol of the arrival of the kingdom of God and the judgment that will accompany it. Revelation 14:15 says, “Another angel came out of the sanctuary, crying out in a loud voice to the One who was seated on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come, since the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”

Who would have imagined that starting with only a group of 12 men, Christianity would grow to where it is today? But it won’t stop there. It will continue to grow until every people group on the planet is found in the kingdom. God will ensure this growth. Are you certain you are part of it?

SOURCE: EXCERPT taken from Christ-Centered Exposition. All rights reserved.
PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

The Control of Life is a Mystery

GOSPEL: The control of life remains a mystery, whether in dictating human behavior, growing a crop of grain, or directing the development of the kingdom of God. Our egos also want to control the speed of growth for the kingdom of God. Impatience takes over as we try to shortcircuit the process by expecting an instant harvest. Perhaps we are victims of a culture where everything is fast foods and instant relief. Jesus slows us down when He describes a process that takes time and cannot be either speeded up or shortcircuited: “first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head” (v. 28). Because we cannot control God’s timing for the growth of the kingdom of God, we must trade in our stopwatches for calendars.

Our egos also get us into trouble because we want to control the harvest of the kingdom of God. As products of a goal-oriented society, we count success in the kingdom of God on the “bottom line.” Listen to a group of pastors discuss their ministries. Attention is given to membership, dollars, and buildings. Success is measured by results as if the pastor controlled the harvest. We who are parishioners share the blame because we lay the burden of success-by-numbers upon our pastors and evangelists. In the Parable of the Growing Seed, Jesus dispels such a notion. As John Stott once preached, “God has only commissioned us to preach the Gospel to all nations; the results belong to Him.”1

As a part of His advanced teaching by parable, Jesus makes it clear that the sprouting, growing, and ripening of the gospel is a supernatural process beyond the prediction and control of man. Our task is to scatter the seed, nourish the plants, and reap the harvest.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from 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.
LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE

Paul was Not Afraid to Die

2 Cor 5:6–8 Paul was not afraid to die, because he was confident of spending eternity with Christ. Of course, facing the unknown may cause us anxiety, and leaving loved ones hurts deeply, but if we believe in Jesus Christ, we can share Paul’s hope and confidence of eternal life with Christ. Death is only a prelude to eternal life with God. We will continue to live. Let this hope give you confidence and inspire you to faithful service.

SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE. All rights reserved.
Niell Donavan

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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.

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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

commentary on readingsThe Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.

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
Catena Aurea

Mark 4:26-29

26. And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

27. And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

28. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

29. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

COMMENTARY

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) A parable occurred, a little above, about the three seeds which perished in various ways, and the one which was saved; in which last He also shews three differences, according to the proportion of faith and practice. Here, however, He puts forth a parable concerning those only who are saved. Wherefore it is said, And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, &c.

PSEUDO-JEROME. The kingdom of God is the Church, which is ruled by God, and herself rules over men, and treads down the powers which are contrary to her, and all wickedness.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else He calls by the name of kingdom of God, faith in Him, and in the economy of His Incarnation; which kingdom indeed is as if a man should throw seed. For He Himself being God and the Son of God, having without change been made man, has cast seed upon the earth, that is, He has enlightened the whole world by the word of divine knowledge.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For the seed is the word of life, the ground is the human heart, and the sleep of the man means the death of the Saviour. The seed springs up night and day, because after the sleep of Christ, the number of Christians, through calamity and prosperity, continued to flourish more and more in faith, and to wax greater in deed.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or Christ Himself is the man who rises, for He sat waiting with patience, that they who received seed should bear fruit. He rises, that is, by the word of His love, He makes us grow to the bringing forth fruit, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand, by which is meant the day, and on the left, by which is meant the night of persecution; for by these the seed springs up, and does not wither. (2 Cor. 6:7)

THEOPHYLACT. Or else Christ sleeps, that is, ascends into heaven, where, though He seem to sleep, yet He rises by night, when through temptations He raises us up to the knowledge of Himself; and in the day time, when on account of our prayers, He sets in order our salvation.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But when He says, He knoweth not how, He is speaking in a figure; that is, He does not make known to us, who amongst us will produce fruit unto the end.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else He says, He knoweth not, that He may shew the free-will of those who receive the word, for He commits a work to our will, and does not work the whole Himself alone, lest the good should seem involuntary. For the earth brings forth fruits of its own accord, that is, she is brought to bear fruit without being compelled by a necessity contrary to her will. First the blade.

PSEUDO-JEROME. That is, fear. For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Then the full corn in the ear; (Ps. 111:10. Rom. 13:8) that is, charity, for charity is the fulfilling of the Law.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or, first it produces the blade, in the law of nature, by degrees growing up to advancement; afterwards it brings forth the ears, which are to be collected into a bundle, and to be offered on an altar to the Lord, that is, in the law of Moses; afterwards the full-fruit, in the Gospel. Or because we must not only put forth leaves by obedience, but also learn prudence, and, like the stalk of corn, remain upright without minding the winds which blow us about. We must also take heed to our soul by a diligent recollection, that, like the ears, we may bear fruit, that is, shew forth the perfect operation of virtue.

THEOPHYLACT. For we put forth the blade, when we shew a principle of good; then the ear, when we can resist temptations; then comes the fruit, when a man works something perfect. It goes on: and when it has brought forth the fruit, immediately he sendeth the sickle, because the harvest is come.

PSEUDO-JEROME. The sickle is death or the judgment, which cuts down all things; the harvest is the end of the world.

GREGORY. (in Ezech. 2. Hom. 3) Or else; Man casts seed into the ground, when he places a good intention in his heart; and he sleeps, when he already rests in the hope which attends on a good work. But he rises night and day, because he advances amidst prosperity and adversity, though he knows it not, for he is as yet unable to measure his increase, and yet virtue, once conceived, goes on increasing. When therefore we conceive good desires, we put seed into the ground; when we begin to work rightly, we are the blade. When we increase to the perfection of good works, we arrive at the ear; when we are firmly fixed in the perfection of the same working, we already put forth the full corn in the ear.


Catena Aurea

Mark 4:30-34

30. And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

31. It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

32. But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

33. And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.

34. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

COMMENTARY

GLOSS. (non occ.) After having narrated the parable concerning the coming forth of the fruit from the seed of the Gospel, he here subjoins another parable, to shew the excellence of the doctrine of the Gospel before all other doctrines. Wherefore it is said, And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?

THEOPHYLACT. Most brief indeed is the word of faith; Believe in God, and thou shalt be saved. But the preaching of it has been spread far and wide over the earth, and increased so, that the birds of heaven, that is, contemplative men, sublime in understanding and knowledge, dwell under it. For how many wise men among the Gentiles, quitting their wisdom, have found rest in the preaching of the Gospel! Its preaching then is greater than all.

CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ. leg. ap. Possin. Cyril.) And also because the wisdom spoken amongst the perfect expands, to an extent greater than all other sayings, that which was told to men in short discourses, for there is nothing greater than this truth.

THEOPHYLACT. Again, it put forth great boughs, for the Apostles were divided off as the boughs of a tree, some to Rome, some to India, some to other parts of the world.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Or else, that seed is very small in fear, but great when it has grown into charity, which is greater than all herbs; for God is love, (1 John 4:16) whilst all flesh is grass. (Isa. 40:6 But the boughs which it puts forth are those of mercy and compassion, since under its shade the poor of Christ, who are meant by the living creatures of the heavens, delight to dwell.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Again, the man who sows is by many taken to mean the Saviour Himself, by others, man himself sowing in his own heart.

CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ. sed v. Cat. in Marc.) Then after this, Mark, who delights in brevity, to shew the nature of the parables, subjoins, And with many such parables spake he the word unto them as they could hear him.

THEOPHYLACT. For since the multitude was unlearned, he instructs them from objects of food and familiar names, and for this reason he adds, But without a parable spake he not unto them, that is, in order that they might be induced to approach and to ask Him. It goes on; And when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples, that is, all things about which they were ignorant and asked Him, not simply all, whether obscure or not.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For they were worthy to hear mysteries apart, in the most secret haunt of wisdom, for they were men, who, removed from the crowds of evil thoughts, remained in the solitude of virtue; and wisdom is received in a time of quiet.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

First Reading

God Always Speaks the Truth

Ezekiel 17:24
I, the Lord, who cuts down the high trees and exalts the low, that I make the green tree wither and the dead tree grow.”

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

EZ 17:1-24 This chapter reviews Judah’s final years through a riddle of two eagles. It mentions the times when Jews were exiled to Babylon prior to Jerusalem’s destruction and predicts the ultimate destruction of Jerusalem. The exiles who heard Ezekiel’s words had been among those exiled during the events he described, but they still hoped that Jerusalem’s destruction would not take place. They were still in denial about their sins and the consequences of their sins.

We also often resist the truth about ourself. This is never a solution to our problems and dependency. Since God in his Word warns us about our sins, we must heed those warnings and repent. God always speaks the truth.

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

Praise God

Psalm 92:2
Every morning tell him, “Thank you for your kindness,” and every evening rejoice in all his faithfulness.

PS 92:1-4 It is a necessary part of recovery to praise God for all he has done for us, to proclaim his unfailing love and his faithfulness to us. He brings us abiding joy. As we experience his faithfulness in our life, praise and thanks should be our natural responses. Our praise will serve as a declaration to others of God’s power to deliver us from the bondage of addiction.

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

Trusting God

2 Corinthians 5:6
Now we look forward with confidence to our heavenly bodies, realizing that every moment we spend in these earthly bodies is time spent away from our eternal home in heaven with Jesus.

2 COR 5:6-9 The fact that God is preparing a new body and a better home for us at the end of our life cannot be proven scientifically; it must be accepted by faith because God told us so (see Hebrews 11:1). Such faith always pleases God, and it helps us overcome our great fear of death—the doorway to eternal life with God (see John 14:2-3).

It is important in recovery that we entrust our life to God and seek to please him. Knowing that God wants to give us something special after this life can give us confidence and motivate us to trust him now.

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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