Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Fun Fact: Why is Wisdom referred to as “She”?
First we must think, if there is a “She”, who is the “He?” The “He” is God (the Father), later Jesus Christ, who came as a man. This implies a male-female bond which is carried through scripture. This bond reflects God’s covenant relationship with His people. It is reflected in marriages today as well, and helps us understand why that marriage is between one male and one female:
- God the Father speaks often of His beloved “Bride” – the people of Israel.
- Jesus Christ (male) and His “Bride” the Church.
- The Groom (male) and His Bride (female).
Many cultures personify Wisdom as a woman.
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)
The seven books of scripture that are categorized as “Wisdom Literature” include Wisdom of Solomon, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, Song of Songs, Job and Proverbs.
Wisdom was written 50 years before the coming of Christ. This book tells us quite literally, of the wisdom of King Solomon. It’s as if someone sat down to write “the best of” when it came to Solomon’s wise sayings and perspectives. Wisdom – here personified as a female (“she”) – helps us try to grasp one of the greatest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – Fear of the Lord. This is not “fear” as in to be afraid, but rather awe.
Today we have a description of what the wicked think; we get a glimpse at how they see the world. But it behooves us to keep reading after this reading selection ends, because that’s where we find more hope. Here’s part of the reading…
The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
and here are the verses that follow, the “they” are “the wicked” spoken about above:
These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
And they did not know the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense for holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
For God formed us to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made us.
Despite the wicked and their actions, despite evil and its presence, God will prevail.
Psalm 54: The Lord Upholds my Life
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
Today’s psalm reminds us that God is in charge, that He is all powerful and all knowing even in the face of the wicked and the evil the devil hurls at us.
O God, by your name save me,
and by your might defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer;
hearken to the words of my mouth.
(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).
We hear echoes of Wisdom in the letter from St. James. There’s encouragement here that God’s wisdom is “pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits..” and so much more. God IS wisdom. We can trust that He knows what He is doing, even though we might suffer, and ask for the human wisdom to understand and follow Him come what may.
Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)
Jesus predicts his passion, death and resurrection 3 times in Mark’s Gospel, and we are at the 2nd time today. At this point in the story the disciples had recently seen Jesus transfigured, they had seen him heal a boy possessed by a demon, and now they are traveling with Jesus to Capernaum.
On the road, the disciples were sort of chit-chatting: “Who is the greatest among us?” My kids do this, too. Times haven’t changed. Who deserves another bowl of cereal. Who deserves to sit in the front seat of the car. Who deserves extra dessert in their lunch. Bicker bicker. So what is Jesus saying to the disciples today? He’s setting them straight. Aiming to strip them of their egos. Reminding them where they are and bringing them face to face with their need – and indeed desire – for authentic humility.
He sums it up by telling them to be like a child. Be small, be like a child in the eyes of God. Serve others, be small. Do not seek greatness on Earth, but aim heavenward. Children were the symbol Jesus used for the poor in spirit, the lowly in the Christian community.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”