October 2023

10-01-2023Reflections and Resources

We continue our liturgical journey through Ordinary Time this month. We hear gospel readings on two particular Sundays which remind us that the Hebrew Scriptures (for us, the Old Testament) provided a clear backdrop for Jesus and the people of his time. On October 8 (the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time), we are presented with the parable of the vineyard owner, whose own son was killed by the vineyard tenants when he sought to obtain his produce. Jesus, after he tells this parable, recites two verses (#s 22-23) from Psalm 118 in the Scriptures, verses which he (and we) believe describe him: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…”

Another instance of “borrowing” from Scripture to make a point is found in the gospel of October 29 (the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time). When Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment, he quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God…”; this is the second half of the Shema, the prayer recited by devout Jews to this day on a daily basis. His second commandment, “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” is taken directly from the book of Leviticus 19:18. Both of these examples, the quotation from Psalm 118 on October 8 and the quotations from the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus on October 29, remind us that the Hebrew Scriptures are an important part of our own history and Christian faith, as they were an essential component of Jesus’ life. You can prepare for each Sunday’s readings at liturgy.slu.edu and you can read introductions to each book of the Bible and see footnotes and comments for particular verses at bible.usccb.org/bible.

This month, the 16th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, gets underway in Rome. The focus of this synod is synodality itself. According to the Synod’s webpage about the Synod (hbit.ly/SynodAbout), synodality “denotes the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel”.

 Meeting with bishops representing all parts of the world along with clergy and lay people (men and women) also from around the world, Pope Francis will be leading the Church in a reflection on three themes: communion, participation and mission. Two questions will be guiding the reflection: “How does this journeying together allow the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accordance with the mission entrusted to her; and what steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow as a synodal Church?” (bit.ly/SynodAbout). Parishes, dioceses and countries throughout the world have already participated in this synodal process, contributing concerns and ideas on how the Church is to go about listening to the Holy Spirit as it acts in our world. You can find many resources about the Synod on its resources webpage at www.synod.va/en/resources.html.