New Revised Standard Version
for February 2024 – Year B
Scripture Summary For 5th Sunday After Epiphany – Year B (Feb 4)
Isaiah 40:21-31: Here 2nd Isaiah has a word of hope for the Hebrew exiles in Babylon. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The all powerful one is also the all loving one. Their plight is not lost to God. He is all powerful; they are like a fragile plant. Yet if they trust in God, their strength will be renewed. They will not just walk unwearied; they will soar like eagles.
Psalm 147: 1-12, 21C: “Praise the Lord” is the supporting phrase of this psalm – beginning and ending the song. There are many reasons why this is a fitting response to the Lord. God cares for the great city of Jerusalem. God cares for outcasts and the marginalized. God calls the stars by name. God cares for the earthly environment. Birds and animals come under God's care. “Praise the Lord.”
I Corinthians 9:16-23: When Paul encountered the living Christ, his entire life got re-arranged. His sharing the gospel has become a never-ending desire to give this joy to others. Free of charge, geared to every possible lifestyle and ethnicity, Paul's purpose in life is now totally centered on sharing Christ. “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings”.
Mark 1: 29-39: Marks moves from space to space in this passage, showing that the message of God touches all areas of life. Jesus has just finished amazing the synagogue crowd and now visits the home of one of his disciples. He immediately heals Peter's mother-in-law. From a domestic setting, Jesus moves out into the city and begins healing all who come to him. He then retreats to a deserted place to pray. It would be easy to stay in the familiar city of Capernaum, but his message is for everyone. His next move is out into all the cities of Galilee.
Scripture Summary For Transfiguration Sunday – Year B (Feb 11)
2 Kings 2:1-12: Elisha does not want to be separated from his prophet-mentor Elijah. Elijah realizes that his time to depart is close, and attempts to free Elisha from his attachment to him. It doesn't work. Elisha continues to follow Elijah closely. Finally the question is asked “what do you want? ”? “A double portion of your spirit'. What better request than to want to have a double portion of the spirit that filled his mentor. The final picture of the miraculous departure and Elisha's anguished amazement is filled with poignancy.
Psalm 50: 1-6: This Psalm celebrates the King in his glory. Only the leader of the cosmos can call forth the earth from sunrise to sunset. God also calls forth his followers in judgment. The followers come to sacrifice. .
II Corinthians 4:3-6: How do we arrive at reliable information about God? Paul maintains that this knowledge is best learned from Jesus Christ. If people are unable to see this, it is because the “god of this world” is blinding their eyes. God's light shines through Jesus Christ and when we believe this, the light shines in our hearts as well. This picture of the fullness of God shining through Jesus Christ is linked to our Transfiguration text in the gospel.
Mark 9:2-9: Transfiguration Day lands each year on the Sunday before Lent. Mark places this story halfway between Jesus' baptism and his resurrection. The mysterious event also links Jesus with the Old Testament figures of Elijah (representing the prophets) and Moses (representing the law). It gives us a glimpse of how thin the veil is separating heaven and earth. Here the disciples are told by the Divine voice to “listen to the beloved Son”. A good command for all of us.
Scripture Summary For Ash Wednesday – Year B (Feb 14)
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17: Joel's words come in starkness and terror. His listeners begin to tremble. Why? Because the day of the Lord is coming. Army boots are heard. Darkness covers the earth. “Yet even now” says the Lord. It is not too late to repent. Fast. Gather the people. Repent and God will still forgive.
Psalm 51:1-17: King David commits a heinous crime and moral sin by coveting his friend Uriah’s wife, committing adultery, and then covering up his crime by murdering her husband. This is his acknowledgment of his grave sin and pleading for God’s forgiveness.
2 Corinthians 5:20b- 6:10: Here Paul sums up the great ironies of the gospel. To judge by outward appearances, Paul's commitment to Christ has brought him nothing but trouble and sorrow. And yet, his inward life is so renewed that he sees his present circumstances as a reason to rejoice. The upside down kingdom that Jesus proclaimed where the first will be last, and the last first is being lived out in Paul. He has nothing, yet possesses everything. Christ has taken our burden of sin and given us his righteousness.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21: The day that we mark ourselves with ashes is also the day that we read in Scripture not to draw attention to our acts of piety. Jesus had his fill of the religious piety that had nothing to do with God, and everything to do with pride and arrogance. He wanted to ensure that his listeners then and now know that God sees every one of our actions, no matter how hidden. There is no need to draw attention to ourselves. God will reward even the smallest act of generosity and kindness.
Scripture Summary For 1st Sunday of Lent – Year B (Feb 18)
Genesis 9: 8-17: Noah and representatives of all creatures have made it through the 40 day flood. The world is again made new. God now makes a covenant with Noah and the entire earth and its creatures that there will never again be a flood that will destroy all creation. This agreement will not be on a signed piece of papyrus. The rainbow in the sky will be the gigantic sign of this cosmic agreement.
Psalm 25:1-10: This Psalm of David's is a joyous pleading for God's intervention. Teach me and lead me are David's requests. He reminds God of his attributes of mercy and steadfast love. Forgive the sins of youth, and show us your ways O Lord.
I Peter 3:18-22: Peter's listeners were being persecuted for their faith. Here Peter reminds them that their faith is secure. Jesus suffered and was killed; and was then raised from the dead. He is the true holder of power and authority. Through their baptism, they are now identified as His.
Mark 1:9-15: Another new creation is about to begin. The first Sunday of Lent always begins with the baptism and wilderness temptations of Jesus. As He is fully identified with us in baptism He too is one with us in all our temptations and trials. We identify with him as we begin 40 days of introspection. Out of these 40 days comes the declaration “The kingdom of God is near”. May we believe this good news.
Scripture Summary For 2nd Sunday in Lent – Year B (February 25)
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16: A new name. A new purpose. Abram, at ninety-nine years old, was about to begin a new life. God appeared to him, and told him that his future would be glorious. He would become a father and the ancestor of a multitude of nations. Kings would be his descendants. All of this would begin with the newly named Abraham and Sarah and the baby that would be born to them in their old age. Notice how many times the word “I” appears. God will be the one who will bring this about.
Psalm 22: 23-31: This well known Psalm was written by Abraham's descendant, King David. Parts of it were quoted by Abraham's greater descendant Jesus on the cross. David is awestruck. God is the one who reigns over nations and is the ruler of those generations already dead, and those yet to be born. Yet this God also hears the cries of the afflicted. In fact, He has heard David's cries and delivered him from peril.
Romans 4:13-25: Here St. Paul links Abraham to his great descendant Jesus by that little word “faith”. Abraham wasn't given these glorious promises because he was circumcised (he wasn't at this point). He wasn't given these promises because he kept the law (Moses wasn't born yet). God calls Abraham the father of the faith because he believed what God told him and staked his life on it. We are the spiritual descendants of Abraham when we have faith in the resurrection and live our lives out of this reality and promise.
Mark 8:31-38: Peter, who only a few verses earlier declares that Jesus is the Christ is now in for a shock. His idea of the Christ (or Messiah) is quite different from the Messiah that Jesus will be. He will not be the ruler and Messiah through violence and power mongering. He will suffer, be rejected, and killed and absorb the evil of the world into himself. God will then vindicate his righteous life and death by raising him to new life. Peter (at this point) did not understand this. Jesus invites all his disciples to follow Him in this way of self-giving love.