Week 24

5 - 11 November
Psalms 112-118, 1 Chronicles, John 1 - 6, Proverbs 26

5 November
1 Chronicles 1 - 4John 1
6 November
1 Chronicles 5 - 7John 2
7 November
1 Chronicles 8 - 11John 3
8 November
1 Chronicles 12 - 15John 4
9 November
1 Chronicles 16 - 20John 5
10 November
Ps 117
Ps 118.1-13
1 Chronicles 21 - 25John 6.1-40
11 November
1 Chronicles 26 - 29John 6.41-end


Psalm 112 is closely related to Ps 111.  Both are acrostics, with stanzas beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and there are many similarities in the words and phrases used.  Where Ps 111 ends with 'The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord', Ps 112 continues with "Happy is the one who fears the Lord'.
Psalm 113 is a hymn of praise for God's majesty and mercy.  It is the first of a cycle of psalms which were sung at festivals, and particularly at the Passover, with its emphasis on the exodus.  It also picks up themes from the Song of Hannah (on the birth of Samuel, in 1 Samuel 2) and the Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55), sung by Mary when she knew was to be the mother of Jesus.
Psalm 114 considers how God can be both God of Israel, and also sovereign of the whole earth.
Psalm 115 declares God's sovereignty against and difference from the idols of the other nations.  It too belongs to the festival cycle.
Psalm 116 is a song of thanksgiving by someone whose prayer for help has been answered.
Psalm 117 is the shortest of all the psalms, yet invites all the nations and people of all times to praise the Lord.
Psalm 118 celebrates the one who comes in the name of the Lord - well known to us from the Benedictus 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord', in our Eucharistic liturgies.  Who this person was meant to be, we do not know, but it could be anyone who can claim to speak in the name of the Lord.  Certainly, all four gospels use this phrase in connection with Jesus when he entered into Jerusalem, prior to his crucifixion, so by then it was understood to be a messianic claim.  Another well-known phrase, 'the day that the Lord has made', has also entered into our liturgies.


1 and 2 Chronicles were originally a single book, written around the fourth century BC - so much later than the events with which it was concerned.  The author, known as the Chronicler, wrote for Jews who were subjects of the Persian Empire, descendants of the Israelites who had been allowed to return to Judah after the Babylonian exile.  It largely ignores the northern kingdom, focusing on the southern kingdom of Judah.
It retells the narrative of the books of Samuel and Kings, but with considerable differences.  It reads as a sermon, rather than as history, which preaches the right relationship between God and his people.  It looks at patterns of failure and judgement, grace and restoration.  The focus on God's justice is balanced by a focus on his grace and mercy - David and his descendants remain kings not through their own merit, but through God's grace.  But Israel, as a holy nation, has a double centre - the Davidic kings, and the priesthood.

1 Chronicles starts with long lists of names - skim lightly over them!  The genealogies, family trees, start with Adam, and connect the people of God through the centuries.
Why does he start this way?  Following the exile, the people of God have lost their way.  The Chronicler is reminding them of their roots in biblical history, and interpreting this history for them, to answer the question 'Who and what are the people of God?'
He emphasises David, his ancestors and descendants and other close relatives; Jacob, his twelve sons who became fathers of the twelve tribes; and Adam, father of the whole human race.

John's Gospel

The author of this gospel gives us a picture of Jesus' life and teachings as he considers large themes.  Jesus, the Son, is the true teacher sent by God the Father, he came from his home with God in heaven to earth, and will return to God in glory, which was his from the beginning.  Jesus is the light of the world, he reveals God through that light.
Jesus is both fully human, and also divine, God's Son.  Throughout the gospel, he is a sign of division.  People either come into the light, or stay in the dark; they believe, or choose the darkness of non-belief.  
The narrative is historically based, but John's prime purpose is not telling the story of Jesus' life, but persuading his readers to believe in Jesus, as God's Son.  As the narrator, he adds numerous 'footnotes' to the narrative, explaining the significance of events.
Chapters 1 to 4 introduce John the Baptist, who is the witness to Jesus.  The prologue, in 1.1-18, is the gospel reading for Christmas Night, when John's beautiful prose explains to us the significance of the incarnation.  Then comes a series of stories - the wedding in Cana, the cleansing of the temple - which show who Jesus is.  
Chapters 5 and 6 may not originally have been in that order, with the abrupt departure for Jerusalem, and unexplained reappearance in Galilee that we now have.  Chapter 6 contains the story of the loaves and fishes, where John expounds Jesus the bread of life, theology which underpins our eucharistic celebration.   Then in Chapter 5, Jesus has gone to Jerusalem, where his destiny is played out.

Proverbs 26

There are three topics in this chapter - the fool, the lazy person and the misuse of speech.  

No comments:

Post a Comment