OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Back in the 60s some groups “adopted” Jesus Christ as an icon of rebellion, overturning authority and tearing up the rule book – possibly because of the frequent confrontations between Our Lord and the Pharisees. Today’s Gospel, however, shows us Jesus not as rule-breaker, but as rule-fulfiller, bringing an even greater depth to the rule that had guided the people of Israel for centuries. Jesus does not throw out the rulebook – or as the first reading says, He does not command us to be godless!  He challenges us in this Gospel to see how far our keeping God’s Law will go: will it just be about the letter of the Law (“I have never killed anyone”), or will it look deeper (“Have I ever been angry? Have I been violent in my thoughts?”). The challenge of the Kingdom of Heaven is to keep the commandments first and foremost from within, so that our outward behaviour conforms to the requirements of God’s Law.

Notes for Readers

From the Catechism

First Reading: Ecclesiasticus 15:15-20
 
Imagine someone has just said to you: “I can’t be doing with all these commandments; no one can keep them all, and anyway God can’t see or isn’t bothered what I do.” This reading is your answer! Interpreting it as a reply will help you get the emphasis on the right words – such as the “can” in the first line or the “is” in the second. Take your time with the passage about choice from line three – it can arrive a little abruptly. Make sure clearly announce  the choices – “fire and water”, “life and death”. Make use of the pattern of two-line phrases in this reading, with generous pause between them.
 
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10
 
Your first problem with this reading is vocabulary: watch out for “maturity”, “philosophy”, “mysteries”, and especially “predestination”. Your second problem will be understanding it. Paul is contrasting three things: the wisdom of God taught by the Church, the philosophy of the world, and the opinion of the “masters of this age”. Paul is saying that the Church has been given something from God that the world can never give – a wisdom which has been hidden, unseen, beyond human understanding. As so often, the effectiveness of this reading depends on your phrasing – which you will have to spend some time on, since the punctuation doesn’t always help you out. Focus on the words “…all that God has prepared for those who love him,” and “aim” for this phrase from line one.
Jesus and the Law
CCC 577-582

The old Law
CCC 1961-1964

The Decalogue in the tradition of the Church
CCC 2064-2068

In fidelity to Scripture and in conformity with the example of Jesus, the tradition of the Church has acknowledged the primordial importance and significance of the Decalogue.
Ever since St. Augustine, the Ten Commandments have occupied a predominant place in the catechesis of baptismal candidates and the faithful. In the fifteenth century, the custom arose of expressing the commandments of the Decalogue in rhymed formulae, easy to memorize and in positive form. They are still in use today. The catechisms of the Church have often expounded Christian morality by following the order of the Ten Commandments.
The division and numbering of the Commandments have varied in the course of history. The present catechism follows the division of the Commandments established by St. Augustine, which has become traditional in the Catholic Church. It is also that of the Lutheran confessions. The Greek Fathers worked out a slightly different division, which is found in the Orthodox Churches and Reformed communities.
The Ten Commandments state what is required in the love of God and love of neighbour. The first three concern love of God, and the other seven love of neighbour. “As charity comprises the two commandments to which the Lord related the whole Law and the prophets . . . so the Ten Commandments were themselves given on two tablets. Three were written on one tablet and seven on the other.”


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