Sunday Gospels (Year A) – Ordinary Week 23 to 34

 

Each week, the Gospel for that coming Sunday will appear here along with an image to which it relates, previous years can be found in the ‘Faith’ menu at the top.

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Thirty Fourth Sunday of Year (A) – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Matthew 25:31-46

Fra Angelico

 

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

The Gospel of the Lord

 

Picture: The Last Judgment (tempera on panel) is a painting by the Renaissance artist Fra Angelico. It was commissioned by the Camaldolese Order for the newly elected abbot, the humanist scholar Ambrogio Traversari. It is dated 1425-1430. It was originally sited in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and now is in the museum of San Marco, Florence.
Like most of Fra Angelico’s work, the iconography is standard for the contemporary treatments of the Last Judgement. Among the most common subjects of painting in churches, it is found more often on walls. In the top centre of the picture, Christ sits in judgement on a white throne surrounded by angels, Mary, John, and the Saints. Christ is shown as judge of the living and dead, his left hand pointing down to Hell, his right up to Heaven. On Christ’s right hand is paradise, with angels leading the saved through a beautiful garden into a shining city. In the middle are the broken tombs of the risen dead, come out of their graves to be finally judged. On Christ’s left hand demons drive the damned into Hell, where the wicked are tormented.

 

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Thirty Third Sunday of Year (A)

Matthew 25:14-30

Year A - 33rd Sunday - Parable Talents - Willem de Poorter

 

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir”, he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” ‘

The Gospel of the Lord

 

Picture: The parable of the talents or minas, painted oil on panel (45x55cm), by Willem de Poorter, around 1640. It is located in the Narodni Galerie, Prague. As Jesus drew ever closer to Jerusalem, Messianic expectations increased as people heard Jesus’ teachings and saw healing and conversions such as that of Zacchaeus. But Jesus sought to make his followers understand that the Kingdom would not appear immediately. To that end, he told the Parable of the Minas (variously translated as pieces of money, talents, pounds, etc.) The parable teaches two main lessons: the kingdom will be delayed, and the king will reward or punish in accord with his subjects’ deserts.

 

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Thirty Second Sunday of Year (A) – Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

John 2: 13-22

Year A - 32nd - Purification of the Temple - El Greco

 

Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money-changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market’.

Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me.

The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up’. The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’

But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: Oil painting (106 x 130cm) entitled ‘Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple’ is a 1600 Christian art painting by El Greco. There exist four copies of the painting and also a faithful reproduction in the National Gallery in London, which has recently been considered as authentic by scholars in the field of visual arts. The picture is dominated by the figure of Christ, poised to unleash his whip. On the left are the traders and on the right are the Apostles. In the 16th century the subject of the Purification of the Temple was used as a symbol of the Church’s need to cleanse itself both through the condemnation of heresy and through internal reform. The reliefs in the background allude to the themes of punishment and deliverance. On the left Adam and Eve‘s expulsion from Paradise prefigures the Purification of the Temple, and on the right, the Sacrifice of Isaac prefigures Christ’s death as the source of redemption. El Greco painted the subject several times throughout his career, both in Italy and in Spain.

 

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Thirty First Sunday of Year (A) – Solemnity of All Saints

Matthew 5: 1-12

Year A - 31st - Sermon On The Mount - Rosselli 3

 

Seeing the crowds, he went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

How happy are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Happy the gentle, they shall have the earth for their heritage.

Happy those who mourn, they shall be comforted.

Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right, they shall be satisfied.

Happy the merciful, they shall have mercy shown them.

Happy the pure in heart, they shall see God.

Happy the peacemakers, they shall be called sons of God.

Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven, this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: Cosimo Rosselli’s Sermon on the Mount can be found on the northern wall of the Sistine Chapel (part of a series on the life of Jesus), created 1481-1482. In this painting, Jesus is standing in the midst of masses of people. His disciples are huddled close together behind Jesus and on His left. In the background, you can see Jesus as Rabbi and His disciples walking on the road to the Mount. On right side Christ is seen healing a leper. This is commonplace in many paintings where they contain more than one scriptural subject. The beatitudes speak of blessings and happiness that are counter to any kind of culture. People today – just like in Jesus’ day – are searching for happiness. Perhaps Rosselli chose to add Christ healing a leper to his Sermon on the Mount painting because this was a visual demonstration of happiness in action. There is physical happiness portrayed on the right side of the painting in the leper’s healing and there is spiritual happiness portrayed on the left side in Jesus’ sermon.

 

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Thirtieth Sunday of Year (A)

Matthew 22: 34-40

Year A - 30th Sunday - The Hundred Guilder Print - Rembrandt

 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: The Hundred Guilder Print is an etching by Rembrandt. The etching’s popular name derives from the large sum of money supposedly once paid for an impression. In this work, Rembrandt broke from the long-standing Northern European tradition of ascribing devotional qualities to religious paintings. Instead, Rembrandt depicted Biblical events as tender instances of piety and serenity. The print is reminiscent of many other Christian religious artworks because it clearly focuses on the figure of Jesus in the centre of the scene. It differs, however, in that it is not based on a single biblical story. Through his use of recognisable figures, Rembrandt illustrates various themes and events from Matthew’s Gospel. The wealthy youth seated with his head in his hand recalls Christ’s admonition against amassing excess wealth, and the mothers presenting their babies to be blessed symbolize Christ’s acceptance of all his followers, no matter how individually insignificant. Thus, the etching served an edifying purpose for Rembrandt’s original audience because it presents many religious messages all packed together.

Rembrandt worked on the Hundred Guilder Print in stages throughout the 1640s, and it was the “critical work in the middle of his career”, from which his final etching style began to emerge. He completed it in 1649. Although the print only survives in two states, the first very rare, evidence of much reworking can be seen underneath the final print and many drawings survive for elements of it.

 

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Twenty Ninth Sunday of Year (A)

Matthew 22: 15-21

Year A - 29th Sunday - Render unto Caesar - Titian

 

The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with the Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in an honest way, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you. Tell us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus was aware of their malice and replied, ‘You hypocrites! Why do you set this trap for me? Let me see the money you pay the tax with.’ They handed him a denarius, and he said, ‘Whose head is this? Whose name?’ ‘Caesar’s’ they replied. He then said to them, ‘Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: The Tribute Money (Italian: Cristo della moneta – literally Christ of the money) is a circa 1516 oil painting by Titian, now held at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. It depicts Christ and a Pharisee at the moment in the Gospels when Christ is shown a coin and says “Render unto Caesar…” Giorgio Vasari thought the head of Christ the ‘most stupendous and miraculous’ thing painted by Titian and that all artists at the time believed it to be an insuperable achievement.

 

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Twenty Eighth Sunday of Year (A)

Matthew 22: 1-14

Year A - 28th Sunday - Parable of the great banquet - Jan Luyken

 

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the cross-roads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: Jan Luyken (April 16, 1649 – April 5, 1712) was a Dutch poet, illustrator and engraver. He was born and died in Amsterdam, where he learned engraving from his father Kaspar Luyken. This picture ‘invitation to the great banquet’ is taken from Robert Bowyer’s illustrated Bible, which he begun in 1791 and finished in 1795, included 32 engravings by James Fittler in the manner of Old Master paintings. Bowyer also bought prints in France that he incorporated into a later edition known as “Bowyer’s Bible”.

 

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Twenty Seventh Sunday of Year (A)

Matthew 21: 33-43

Year A - 27th Sunday - St Matthew - Rembrandt

 

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad.

When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:

It was the stone rejected by the builders that became the keystone.

This was the Lord’s doing and it is wonderful to see?

‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: The Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel, painted by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn. The painting is housed at the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Rembrandt has the boy whisper something in Matthew’s ear. The boy resembles Rembrandt’s son Titus. This is one of five portraits of apostles Rembrandt made in 1661.

 

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Twenty Sixth Sunday of the Year (A)

Matthew 21: 28-32

Year A - 26th Sunday - John the Baptist - Veneto

 

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go”, but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir”, but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: Painting of John the Baptist, by Bartolomeo Veneto, 16th century. Veneto was an Italian painter who worked in Venice, the Veneto and Lombardy. During his time in Venice, he studied under Gentile Bellini. His best known works are portraits or pictures with portrait-like character. Bartolomeo’s later works, and especially those done on commission in Milan, indicate an influence from the artist Leonardo da Vinci.

 

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Twenty Fifth Sunday of the Year (A)

 Matthew 20:1-16

Year A - 25th Sunday - Vineyard - Rembrandt

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them. “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.”

In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last-comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first last.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: Painting of the parable by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn. , showing the workers being paid that evening. Painted in 1637, oil on panel. It is housed in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

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Twenty Fourth Sunday of the Year (A)

The Triumph of the Cross

John 3:13-17

Year A - 24th Sunday - Jesus instructing Nicodemus - Hendricksz

 

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: Oil on panel. ‘Christ Instructing Nicodemus,’ attributed to Crijn Hendricksz Volmarijn (1604-1645), a painter from the Dutch Golden Age. Crijn was a follower of Caravaggio, and known for his historical allegories.

 

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Twenty Third Sunday of the Year (A)

Matthew 18:15-20

Year A - 23rd Sunday - Emmaus - Caravaggio

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

Picture: Supper at Emmaus (1606) is an oil painting by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, housed in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. The painting inevitably invites comparison with Caravaggio’s earlier version (1601) of the same subject, housed in the National Gallery, London: the expansive theatrical gestures have become understated and natural, the shadows are darkened, and the colours muted although still saturated. The effect is to emphasise presence more than drama.

 

 

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