Friday, February 19, 2010

Lectionary Notes and More

The Week of Quadragesima: Lent I
Sunday, 21 February AD 2010

It’s Friday morning, the third day of Lent, and near the end of a very busy week. There were pancakes on Tuesday, two celebrations of the Ash Wednesday rite, Stations of the Cross and the first session of a Lenten Study yesterday evening. There eas also the preparation of the study, and there’s still a sermon to get ready for Sunday (even though there’s also Vestry)! So in providing some reflections on this week’s readings, I find that I must fall back on other resources —at least more obviously than I usually do. Nonetheless, I trust that these comments will be of some assistance. As always, the notes at the RCL site are helpful.
Anglican Resources for Anglicans
When we come to the Gospel reading, I will direct you to some sermons from the past which I have found very helpful. This reminds me to mention a very valuable Anglican resource you may not have met yet It is Project Canterbury, “a free online archive of out-of-print Anglican texts and related modern documents,” which may be found at
Another useful site is The Anglican Library. “The aim of the Anglican Library is to publish new HTML editions of Christian literature from the Anglican tradition and other works that have traditionally been of interest to Anglicans. In addition, we hope to serve as a guide to Anglican literature located elsewhere on the internet.”
The Readings
Deuteronomy 26.1-11
In Year C the first reading is the passage from Deuteronomy which gives directions for the ofering of firstfruits in thanksgiving in the promised Land. In the Roman Missal, a shorter section is read from this chapter; it is only verses 4-10, the declaration to be made when the offering is handed over to the priest. This declaration centres on God’s mighty act of salvation in the Exodus. A note in the New St Joseph Daily Missal reminds that the Exodus had “a meaning similar to what the death and resurrection of Jesus means to us as Christians. Both are might acts of God resulting in liberation. Both inspire a Confession of Faith in which these mighty acts are recited.” At the beginning of Lent this reading makes us look forward to the Christian Passover which is the goal of the season and all its disciplines.
Psalm 91.1-2, 9-16
This psalm is classed as a psalm of trust ending with an oracle of salvation (vv. 14-16); the promse of glory and length of days in the final oracle points to the kings as being its recipient. Verses 10-11 are quoted by the devil in today’s Gospel reading. The art of quotation, it has been said, is knowing when to stop. It is interesting to note that in Luke 4.11, the devil stops quoting this psalm at v. 12, omitting the next verse which promise that with the help of angels the faithful will trample on wild beasts, in which, as the NJBC puts it, “the psalm moves from God’s protecting his faithful one to his equipping him to battle evil (cf.Ps 18)”.
The Epistle: Romans 10.8b-13
The notes in the St Joseph Missal identify this reading as containing a Baptismal confession (v.9), thereby linking it to the confession in the first reading.
The Comments in the New Oxford Annotated Bible and in the NJBC are helpful, placing this passage in the wider section, Romans 9.30-10.13, in which St Paul is explaining that “true righteousness is by faith”, which is in turn part of his argument that the new way of righteousness in Christ Jesus does not contradict God’s promises of old to Israel (9.1-11.36). Thus the Gentiles who come to confess that Jesus is Lord are called by the same Lord who called Israel to be his people (10.12).
The Holy Gospel: Luke 4.1-11
Every year on the first Sunday in Lent the Gospel readings tell us of the Temptation of our Lord in the Wilderness, because it is on his forty days’ fast that Lent is modelled. Perhaps you will forgive me for sending you to some works which I have found to be better reflections on this Sunday’s Gospel reading than anything I can think up.. For years my first reading about the Temptation has been in sermons of two great Anglican preachers of the seventeenth century.
John Cosin (1594-1672), Bishop of Durham, and one of the architects of the Restoration of the Church in 1660, preached two sermons on our Lord’s Temptations. When and where he preached them is not recorded, but it seems likely that it was at his parish of Brancepath in Yorkshire, perhaps soon before 1630. They may be found on line at
One reason I think Cosin’s two sermons were for his parish is that they are clearly based on a series of seven sermons on the Temptations by Lancelot Andrewes, and are very compressed and simplified versions of them. Andrewes' sermons may be found in his collected Works, volume 5, and are on line at

Don’t forget to check the collection of patristic commentaries in the Catena Aurea at

Now it's Friday noon, and that’s all there is for this week.

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