28th Sunday B

The first reading is from the Book of Wisdom.  We had a reading from this book on the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time and comments there explained something about the book in general and the first 5 chapters in particular.  The books that are in the Christian bible are called canonical (from the Greek κανων meaning rule or standard), because they are approved by the Church as giving reliable teaching about God and how we should live.  However, non-Catholic Christians generally don’t recognise the Book of Wisdom as belonging to this group, as it was only regarded as special by the Jews living outwith Israel.  For this reason it is regarded as of secondary value and is called deutero-canonical.  The passage we have today (7:7-11) is all about the gift of true wisdom which Solomon prayed for and from which we learn how true wisdom  surpasses many things that might tempt us.   The name ‘Sophie’ comes from the Greek for wisdom which is personified as a lady.

The second reading is just two verses from the Book of Hebrews (4:12f).  The author of the letter to the Hebrews as a knowledgeable and thoughtful Christian in the first century after Christ, has taken historical events and theological ideas from the Old Testament and used them to express his religious ideas .  In the unit that is our short reading he begins with the relevance and vitality of the word of God, referring ambiguously between the words of the Hebrew Scriptures that he knows so well and Jesus Christ the very Word of God incarnate into our world: literally “Living indeed (is) the word of God and effective…” This Christ is dynamically challenging to the way of life that we lead: “sharper than any two-edged sword”; not just to the way that we live in this secular society: “penetrating into (the) division of soul and spirit” but also sensitive to the inner thoughts and intentions that we have: “judging of thoughts and heart’s intentions”.  And it is to Him that we have to give a report, literally “the word,” thus rounding off this poetic passage with the word word with which he began.  The writer must think that the convert Jews whom he addresses are getting lax even by the standard of the Wisdom in their Book of that name; so he speaks of the wise word of God that strikes at their inner attitudes (and seems to find them wanting).

The third reading is a unit from the gospel of Mark (10:17-30) as his account draws towards the final days of Jesus in Jerusalem.  He is wanting to focus the reader more on the essential core attitude of being a follower of Christ, telling us how Jesus tries to bring his disciples to some sort of understanding.  The unit is not difficult in itself but two points might be noticeable.  The man seeking advice from Jesus refers to him as “Good teacher.”  We live in a time when there has been some sorting out of the language we might use about God in relation to the three Persons of the Trinity and to the divinity of Christ; so that when Mark writes that Jesus replies “No one is good but God,” we are given cause for pause.  Matthew, when copying this story into his gospel avoids this difficulty altogether with “Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good…” (Matthew 19:16f).  We are reminded by this that the revelation of the Incarnation and of the Trinity presents us with a mystery that only through the centuries has come to be expressed in what we think of as precise and clear wording.  In addition to being reminded of this mystery we might also be surprised by Jesus referring to the disciples as children.  It was, we are told, fairly normal for a Jewish teacher to refer to his ‘students’ in this way, but it can also remind us of our relationship with God in Christ, as disciples – people not only struggling to understand, but also to follow in the way that we live.

see Jeffs Jottings – here

29th Sunday B

The middle section of the long Old Testament book of Isaiah is particularly about the peoples’ sorry state in exile in Babylon and the encouragement forf them that all will be well eventually.  The section begins at chapter 40 with comforting words and ends in Chapter 55 with a confidence for the future.   And the section contains four songs about the servant of the Lord.  In the first song (Isaiah 42:1-9) the servant will gently bring peace to the people and to all nations in line with God’s intentions.  The second is at the beginning of chapter 49, about the nation of Israel itself as in some way the servant accomplishing God’s will.  The third song in chapter 50 speaks of the servant as an individual prophet announcing the good news of God in the face of all difficulties.  And our reading today is just a small part of the final song (Isaiah 53:10-11); it speaks of the servant as a righteous person overcoming all sinfulness so all might be righteous.  Christians apply many of the descriptions of the servant in these songs to Christ Himself, for He, through much suffering, maintains His righteousness and enables it freely for all to attain; we see Jesus as the ultimate case of unselfishness and suffering that benefits others.

In the letter to the Hebrews the author interprets the history of the chosen people with all its ups and downs, and constantly points out the message it has for the Christians he addresses. The second reading is the next three verses after last week’s reading (Hebrews 4:14-16).  It develops this Christian interpretation of the suffering servant, but sees Jesus as the genuine priest, unlike all the others with their own sins, for He has not just symbolically entered the inner sanctum of the Temple, but has actually entered heaven itself.  Being one of us, Jesus has won the possibility of ultimate success for everyone – the culmination of God’s creative act of unselfishness and risk-taking.

Mark wrote the good news of Jesus Christ for the early followers of the Way of Jesus.  The purpose of this gospel is to give the people some understanding of the transformation potential that Jesus should have on the readers’ lives.  Mark does this through the format of a report of the public life and death of Jesus, his sayings and his deeds and the reaction of those around him, especially the disciples; it expresses his understanding of the significance of it all for life in his time (and in ours today).  The third reading (Mark 10:32-45) we have for today is one of undoubted reliability, for no gospel writer would have portrayed the disciples in such a bad light had it not been past down to them from the disciples themselves, who admitted their unworthiness.  The story is made public here so as to remind us Christians even to this day, that we can easily get the message of the Kingdom of God quite wrong because of our self-confidence and selfishness.  The disciples thought the kingdom was to do with earthly power politics and selfish promotion.  They just had not understood the main message Jesus was trying to put across to them; until He had actually died and it began to dawn on them what it was all about then they began to see things differently..

see Jeffs Jottings – here

27th Sunday B

The first reading comes at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis chapter 2, verses 18 to 24), just after the beautiful poem about God’s work of creation which He saw as very good.  The passage is an extract from a story about the creation of people and their fall from grace.  The extract tells of God after creating a man, making all the animals, but finally forming a woman as a suitable partner for him; it ends with an expression of the most desirable arrangement for marriage in the situation of the writer and of the original hearers of the story, with the need to keep their numbers up and to have a close knit community – “.. a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to a wife, and they become one body;”  a similar family situation is the blessing of the Psalm (128) which is used as a response to the reading.

Singing of the wonderful works of God in Psalm 8, the Jews would recall that humans were made just a little lower than angels and were to be crowned with glory and splendour.  But the writer of our second reading (Hebrews, chapter 2, verses 9 to 11) realises that prior to the coming of Jesus humans had failed to live up to this grand position they had been given in God’s creative scheme.  As a Christian with knowledge of the Hebrew bible, the writer chose a legitimate alternative translation of ‘a little lower than’  and applied verse 5 of psalm 8 to Jesus, writing that He was ‘for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour’ – the Son of God was made man (human), lived and died and is now risen and seated at the right hand of God.  The reading then says that now there is a human like ourselves, Who can lead us who are failing, along the way to salvation – that Person is Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

In the gospel reading (Mark, chapter 10, verses 2 to 16), Mark tells his readers of Pharisees coming to Jesus to question Him about divorce.  There were at the time two different views among Jewish groups, both accepting that a man could give a writ of divorce to his wife according to the Law (Deut 24:1ff), but one group thought this was only in the case of her adultery, the other in the case of much lesser dissatisfaction.  Mark writes that Jesus replied by referring to the original plan of God that was written in Genesis (and is the last part of the first reading) adding that the Law they referred to was only an inferior application because of human weakness.  In the story, the disciples are surprised and quiz Jesus when they are alone, but He re-affirms his original reply and even adds that a woman shouldn’t divorce a man (something not really thought possible by most Jews).  It is likely that this whole issue was a matter of some discussion in the early church, for in Matthew’s gospel, in a parallel story, Jesus seems to support the Deuteronomy ruling.  Much earlier, when Paul thought the plan of God was about to be completed and the world come to an end, he wrote that it was best not to marry at all, though if one did, the rights of husband and wife over each other were equal.   So even in the early church there were different views about marriage and divorce..

see Jeffs Jottings – here

26th Sunday Cycle B

The first reading is from Numbers chapter 11, verses 25-29.  The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Pentateuch which is a name for the first five books of the Bible, called by the Jews, the Law.  Probably largely put together in the 8th century BC, the Pentateuch has the pattern of the whole creative plan of God: it starts with creation then the failings of the human race, and so God choosing a group of humans for special attention to try to begin to recover the situation; this is followed by migration to Egypt and their being enslaved there; eventually they are rescued by God and, wandering through the desert for years are, supposedly, made into a better people, ready to enter the Promised land, a title which stands for the completing of God’s whole plan for the universe – not that it has worked itself out yet.  The same pattern is poetically expressed in the poem at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis chapter 1).  In the first reading the organisation of the group in the desert is developing – is developing problems; for there are some ‘unauthorised’ charismatic people playing a part in their emerging organisation; many think that the gift of God should be limited to those at the head of the structure, but  Moses, in our account, thinks not, but rather that the spirit should be on all. 

From the reading of James (5:1-6) we get a glimpse of some of the problems with some of the people who count themselves as Christians.  It is an easily understood passage, not unlike a lot of the messages in the books of the prophets and even in preaching to this day.  Positively it is an encouragement to social justice – a message that is appreciated by the less well-off more than by the richer people; but it is they who are the real targets of the diatribe.  The reference to “the murder of the righteous one”, could well refer to the crucifixion of Jesus, but it might also apply to suppression of the talents of those who are innocent, which is partly the message of the gospel reading.

The gospel reading (Mark 9:38-48) brings together in an interesting way, two passages that at first seem quite disconnected, and includes a universal proverb.  The first incident is very like the message of the first reading; it is about someone who has not been appointed to do so (to exercises a spiritual power), who is casting out a devil in Jesus’ name; and when the disciples complain to Jesus about this, He makes much the same judgment about it as did Moses in the book of Numbers in a somewhat similar case (in the first reading); He uses the proverb ‘who is not against us is for us;’ so Mark represents Jesus’ view as not seeing the followers of Jesus as an exclusive group, nor even one with a monopoly on doing good, and even using the power of His name.  The second part of the reading is about scandalising a child, where it is quite possible that ‘child’ refers to a disciple or to an innocent enthusiast; if this is the case then it makes more sense in this context and even could link with the end of the reading from James. It goes on then to stress how radically we must act in order to rid ourselves of any evil we have.

see Jeffs Jottings – about grace – sanctifying grace.

25th Sunday Cycle B

The book of Wisdom from where the first reading (Ch  2:12, 17-20) comes, is from the first section of the book (chapters 1-5) which illustrates the attitude that others might well have towards the believing Jews, who think themselves superior.  The whole book seems to have been written originally in Greek and probably in Egypt where there was a ‘colony’ of Jews; it probably dates from the first century BC.  The reading suggests that the way of the ‘godless’ may be troublesome to the Jews; but these were not really godless in the sense of being wicked people, many of them had good standards of behaviour both private and public, and what they wanted out of life was a pleasant and satisfying life for themselves and for others.  The Jews in Israel at the time of Jesus did not accept this Book as part of their Scriptures and even now it is Catholics, not the Protestants, who have this book in their Bible.  However, the writer is picking up on a theme in Isaiah and elsewhere, that those who are righteous will be opposed by others who will treat them badly and even condemn them to death (as we saw in the suffering servant song in last week’s reading from Isaiah).  The responsorial psalm is the congregation’s response to the reading and is very aptly chosen.

The reading from James (3:16-4:3) comes across like preaching in the early church and has the same pattern and general sense as Paul’s letter to the Galatians (5:19-23) namely, a longish list of sins then “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…”  where James has “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy…”   But it is the list of evils and sins that makes us wonder at the state of the early followers of the Way of Jesus – it seems that they were not all the saintly enthusiasts we might imagine.

The gospel reading (Mark 9:30-37.) takes us further into the second half of the Gospel the beginning of which we had last week.  The plot is moving now towards the fulfillment and completion of Jesus’ life on earth.  We read a second prediction of Jesus’ passion and resurrection; it is what might be expected by those who have grasped the message of the first reading; so Jesus is now worried about too much public exposure and especially about the use of the word Christ which has for most of his contemporaries the implication of some grand almost secular political power on the side of the Jews.  We see this as we read of the disciples, upon hearing the prediction, arguing about who will share positions of power in the coming kingdom.   Again and again Mark indicates that the disciples just don’t understand what Jesus is talking about.  But the message of Jesus is not to be understood so much as to be lived out in our attitude to others different from ourselves “whoever wants to be first must be last.”

see Jeffs Jottings – here

24th Sunday Cycle B

The first reading is the third of four ‘Servant Songs’ found in this part of the book of Isaiah.  These songs focus on and develop the idea of being a servant of God and of others – of living for other people.  They introduce the notion of inevitable suffering, of disappointment, difficulties and even disaster; these must be faced up to with dignity and with faithfulness to the cause of serving others whatever the trials or troubles encountered; the aim of the servant is the good of others.  Sometimes these songs may have been applied to a prophet who had the role of pointing out in words and by the example of his own life, the message of God and the way that folk should live.  Prophets often suffered for their delivery of an unwelcome message so that these poems sometimes merit the title ‘Suffering Servant Songs.’  But at other times these songs may apply to the nation of the Jews as a whole; for they fell into the temptation of thinking that being chosen by God was a privilege that elevated them above others and should defend them from foreign interference, whereas being chosen is being challenged with the humble task of living for the good of others and suffering any consequent troubles.  Christians, following the lead of the New Testament writers, applied these songs to the life of Jesus, God who became a man to dwell among us in order to benefit the whole of humanity for all time, but whose message was disturbing to many, especially the leading lights among the Jews at the time – those in authority, the Scribes and the Pharisees; some of the words of our reading today from Isaiah 50:5-9  have been used in describing the passion and suffering of Jesus.

The second reading from James 2:14-18 deals with the relationship of faith and good works, which must have been something of a contention between Christians in James’ day, as it was at the time of the Reformation; but the issue can arise for any of us at any time when we think that because we have faith it means that we are safe and secure, and when this confidence leads to a neglect of living how we  ought to live – living for the sake of others – as Jesus gave his whole life for the love of us all.  Believing is not just accepting certain doctrines, nor just an emotional devotion to the person of Christ, but more than anything it is living in a particular way.

The gospel reading is the central turning point in Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 8: 27-35) where Mark has Jesus explicitly moving towards his passion and death.  With regard to the name Christ which for Mark, his readers and all Christians may be taken as a sort of surname of Jesus or as referring to the sum of one’s beliefs about this Son of God made man; but for Peter at the time and most of the crowd that followed or heard of Jesus, it would have had the connotation of an earthly leader who would establish Israel in its ideal grandeur and forcibly subdue all opposing regimes bringing the expected time of fulfillment foretold in their Scriptures.  It must be partly because of this expectation that Mark has Jesus wanting to keep this hush-hush yet not to deny the title a more spiritual meaning.  Jesus doesn’t really fulfill the earthly expectations of a glorious King like David was imagined to be; but Jesus is much more the suffering servant  who lives and dies for others.  Like most Jews, Peter couldn’t accept this notion of being a servant, especially a suffering one.  And we notice that when Jesus says to Peter “Get behind me” it is an ambiguous phrase, and could equally mean ‘back me up’ or ‘be a follower of mine.’  Indeed the same Greek phrase is used by Mark later when he has Jesus say “if anyone would ‘come after me’ let him deny himself…”

see Jeffs Jottings – nine eleven

23rd Sunday Cycle B

At the end of the creation poem in Genesis chapter 1, we read that “God looked at all He had done and behold (it was) extremely good.”  But the rest of the Old testament is largely about the mess that people are making of this creation.  It was probably when Moses led enslaved tribes out of Egypt to freedom, that they adopted Yahweh as their god – or rather he adopted them.  It sowed the belief that God would always see them alright.  But about 500 years later, after a lot of ups and downs, they lost the land they believed God had given them and almost lost faith too.  But a prophet, one of the guardians of the faith, in his role of discerning the original and future plan of God for creation, told the people in dire straits that God would one day restore them to prosperity; we read of this expectation of the restoration of damaged creation in poetic and symbolic form in the first reading from Isaiah 35:4 – 7 – the blind will see, the deaf will hear etc. 

About 600 years after Isaiah’s pronouncement, and after many disappointments and disagreements amongst the Jews, Jesus became one of them – one of us.  It is probably a cousin of His who wrote the letter of James, where chapter 2, verses 1 – 5 are an example of the many wise things that he points out to those Jews living outwith their homeland and who had become followers of Jesus’ Way (Christians).  Although he tells them to treat people fairly, he makes no mention in the whole letter of the non-Jews among whom they were living.  Yet we know that Paul had worked widely in the area particularly welcoming Gentile converts.  This might be one of the many aspects of this letter that made the early church hesitant about adopting it as part of their scriptures.  However James’ suggestions for relationships with others is good and applicable also to us today, and we would even want to develop the idea to cover relationships with people of other faiths and of none, and extend them to cover people with other differences from what we might feel is the norm.

We know that Paul and Peter didn’t always see eye to eye about what attitude to have towards Gentile converts – Peter wanting to hold on to his Jewish customs and regulations.  Mark was more in favour of Paul’s liberal attitude, but when writing his Gospel he could find little evidence of Jesus’ attitude to non-Jews.  But he does tell the story of a Syro-phœnician woman where she says, even the dogs can eat the scraps under the table; and he improves on that in today’s gospel reading (Mark 7:31-37), where Jesus cures a deaf mute in Gentile territory.  In this passage Mark seems to have in mind the words of the prophet that were in the first reading; indeed, Mark uses the same, vary rare word for the speech defect (μογιλαλον) that is in Isaiah.  Yet he may not have also knowingly reflected the words of God at the end of the creation poem (quoted above) when he writes about the onlookers of the miracle, saying “He has done all things well.”

see Jeffs Jottings – here

22nd Sunday Cycle B

The reading, Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8, is from the fifth and last book of the first and most important part of the Bible, which the Jews refer to as the Law, and Christians call the Pentateuch (the five scrolls).  The book of Deuteronomy is written as five long speeches of Moses to the people before they enter into the ‘Promised land.’   It was written down at least 300 years after that and comprises mostly a re-presentation of many of the laws and regulations found in earlier parts of the Pentateuch.  The insistence on keeping the many laws and customs 2500 years ago would be considered today to be a suppression of the rightful individuality of each person with a particular role in life and vocation from God.  But aside from that the reading has a supercilious attitude towards other nations, their ways of living and their own religions – an attitude of superiority to all others.  The verses presented in our reading omit verses 3 – 5 which tell of their God destroying those who don’t accept Him and of God helping the Jews to conquer the land they have been promised to inhabit.  This makes us realise how our religious thinking has developed over the centuries.

The reading from the letter of James 1:17-18,21-22,27 fits in well with the other readings.  The church took quite a while before it finally agreed that this Letter should be part of the New Testament; and many since then have thought it rather trivial, with Luther referring to it as straw – pretty insignificant stuff.  The Letter is addressed to a number of churches made up of Jews who are now Christians and who are not in the land of Israel, but are living in what is called the Diaspora – they are the dispersed Jews.  Reformed Christians often maintain that they are saved by faith – by believing in Jesus as the saviour and Son of God; whereas Catholics seem to value many practices like devotions, rituals and other ‘good works.’   This Letter of James actually says that we are saved by works not just by faith.  Thankfully, both Catholics and other Christians generally don’t have any disagreement about these matters any more.  But what our passage here stresses is that the word of God is actually within us – the laws written in our hearts; and the examples of what we need to do are what we all should hear – being humble, meek and serving the needs of others.

With the gospel reading we have returned to Mark again (Chapter 7, verses 1-8, 14-15 and 21-23) and the chosen passage fits in well with the previous two readings; the first about strict observance of all the rules and the second about helping the needy.  We can imagine the situation in the early Church that Mark is addressing when he chooses to relate this story in which some of the important Jews come to Jesus and accuse his disciples of breaking the rules about when and how to eat food;  Jesus replies quite confidently that the infringements of these rules doesn’t make anyone irreligious, but it is what a person says and does that might affect their relationship with God.  We know that there were arguments among the early Christians about the extent to which the regulations of the Jewish religion apply to Christians – especially convert Gentiles; we know also that Paul and Peter had different views on this matter.  Even to this day different ‘shades’ of Christianity and different individuals in various denominations hold rules and regulations in varying degrees of importance.

see Jeffs Jottings – Be human

21st Sunday Cycle B

The first reading from the book of Joshua (24:1-2,15-18) is well chosen.  The nomadic people with their desert God, Yahweh, have survived the wandering in the Sinai wilderness, have crossed the river Jordan and invaded the land of Canaan.  The story started to be preserved and felt relevant when the tribes began to settle.  The conquered Canaanites have agricultural and fertility gods, and their religion serves them well for they are successful farmers.  But the invaders want to settle and live off the land they have conquered.  As well as the attraction of this other religion, they see that its adherents are much more successful farmers.  The temptation is strong to move to their religion, but the reading describes Joshua calling for a reaffirmation of commitment to Yahweh by all of the tribes.  This is surely a story that deserved being preserved in their bible and is thought-provoking for all of us, even to this day.  The 12 verses omitted in our selected reading recount the numerous times that God enabled the people to conquer other tribes and nations and showing the superior power of their God.

The second reading is the next short section from the letter to the Ephesians (5:21-32) after those which we have had over the last few Sundays.  The start of the reading for today is part of a sentence that began two verses earlier.  The writer has said (verse 19 and 20) that you shouldn’t get drunk on alcohol, but should be filled with the Spirit; he goes on to explain what this implies, that is, singing each other’s praises with hymns etc. to the Lord, giving thanks to God and (where our reading begins) “showing respect to each other in awe of  Christ,” and the sentence continues “ladies to their men as to the Lord.”  Some of the modern English translations show something of our problem today with the apparent subordination of wives to husbands.  The writer is elaborating for (new) Christians the implications of their new-found beliefs; it’s the practical details of life within one’s community and particularly within the family – husband, wife, children and servants.  This is not unlike the recommended best within the secular society of their time and location, but the principal purpose is not the support of the state but the building up of the church, the Body of Christ; and Jesus showed these attitudes in His life on earth, lived out for others even to the point of death.  But when applied to us these old accounts in our Sacred Scriptures need their essential message extracting and re-locating in the contest of our culture and indeed within the lives of each of us.  The core message surely is, that there should be harmony between people, for Christians should know that they are the physical presence of Christ in the world today (i.e. the Body of Christ) and should relate to each other accordingly, (and to other people and the environment).

The Gospel reading from John (6:60-69), puts the call to commitment in a Christian context.  After the explanation of Himself as the true bread of life, i.e. the wisdom and the way for us to live, Jesus has said unless you eat this flesh of mine you shall not have life within you – that’s the ‘hard saying,’ that the disciples refer to: ‘the intolerable language’.  That was last week’s reading but listen to this reading advising us not to take this literally, when it says the flesh profits nothing, it’s the spirit that is important, it’s the spiritual meaning that makes sense; and through Jesus the Spirit is present in our matter-of-fact world.  And Jesus is the Son of Man, the ideal human who in the future will be joined by all.  So our celebration of Communion is a time to take to ourselves the life of Jesus, committing ourselves to live how he would live if He were in our shoes (which in a non-literal sense He is!).  If the Body is the physical presence of a person, then the whole of creation is in some way the body of Christ.

The Assumption

There was much apocalyptic literature in the centuries before and after Christ – among the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Persian and even Indian literature. This literature which is about the development in the world of disasters and troubles expressed in dramatic stories, included those of evil ‘influences’ seeking to destroy the next ruler born to a chosen woman to be mother of the future ruler. Some form of these apocalyptic stories were part of Jewish literature – as also the book of Revelation in the N.T. which used to be called the apocalypse in Catholic bibles, because of its similarity to such literature. Our first reading (from Revelations 12:1-6) for the Catholic feast of the Assumption includes an adaptation of this mythic scenario to the situation of Christianity under Roman persecution in the 1st century to encourage believers in Jesus and his resurrection – a faith that secures them safety in heaven, but how the rest of us, still living in our world, are still threatened by evil. The story could bring to mind the assumption of Mary into heaven – waiting with Christ for the rest of us after our struggles against the evil forces in our world. There are ‘secular’ stories of old about such sort of events.

The second reading (1 Cor 15:20-27) is about the resurrection -life with God after death. The appearances of Jesus referred to chiefly in the gospels, are expressions of risen life after death which through Jesus is open to all – but all sin and deficiencies in us humans are gaps in our relationship through Christ with God. I think Paul like most of the early believers though this completion would come fairly soon for them. Bu, after two millennia we have to realise that we are still working on this i.e. on freeing ourselves and our world from many failings and imperfections. The belief in the assumption of Mary who illustrates this fulfilment drew this passage to the minds of those devising the liturgy for the Catholic feast.

The Gospel that is read this day is from Luke 1:39-56 and it gives us what follows after the story of the annunciation. And it includes the song that she sang when visiting Elizabeth, which is sometimes called the magnificat after the first word of it in Latin. It tells of the blessing that she has from God, but also of the way God favours those who are good-living, but suppresses those who are not – I guess most of us a bit of each – but Mary feels utterly blessed and that is the ground for celebrating her this day.

see Jeffs Jottings – Belief in practice