Scripture Notes – September 6th 2020

Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.


Survey Link:

This survey went out last week and will be open for about four weeks or so. If you haven’t responded and would like too, simply click on the link. There’s also room for further comment and you can always send me an email directly. The goal is to improve this service.

1. Click on the link above.

2. When the website opens up, click the OK box under my opening invitation.

3. When your cursor is over a question it lights up (and the other questions are in grey).

It cannot be said too frequently that no single Bible passage ever says all that needs to be said on a particular topic. Matthew himself is very aware of this as we shall see further on. In these chapters on community life, he takes up the topics of order, conflict and forgiveness within the church. Such topics are never really out of date because conflict is always present, forgiveness is always needed and guidelines/procedures of some sort are always required.

In today’s Gospel, we see in embryonic form a process for dealing with a situation where the actions of a brother or sister fall short of what is expected. The three-fold process is briskly told, profiling the “system” somewhat. Such procedural clarity should be set alongside the Gospel for the following Sunday: the parable of the unforgiving steward. In good Jewish fashion, Matthew simply juxtaposes the two passages — over to you, so to speak. Go figure.

That is not all that needs to be said.  Matthew, in particular, has a systematic emphasis on forgiveness—perhaps reflecting his long experience of church life. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, only Matthew has this teaching: leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift. (Matthew 5:24)  After the Lord’s Prayer, only Matthew places here these words:   “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.” (Matthew 6:14–15) At the Lord’s Supper, only Matthew has the words about the forgiveness of sins: this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28). Clearly, forgiveness and reconciliation were pastorally urgent in his community. Such urgency is not unknown in our own day.

Again, the whole of chapter 18 should be read. You might find the YouTube presentation useful here.

Full notes (PDF)
Gospel notes only (audio)
Gospel notes only (portable)
Note: the audio no longer takes you SoundCloud but plays instead directly from the website.

Short presentations (about 25-30 minutes), going a little deeper into the Gospel passage, with an eye to practical application.
Gospel exploration (YouTube)
Gospel exploration (Zoom)

These presentation are different to the notes, with an eye to contemporary issues.
YouTube lectures


In the course of the summer, I chanced upon a book with an intriguing title: Holy Resilience. The author, David M Carr, is well-known Old Testament scholar at Union Theological Seminary, New York. The subtitle to the book gives a clue: The Bible’s Traumatic Origins.  He tracks the evolution of our Scriptures, using trauma theory in a very pastoral and illuminating way. The book is not technical and would make a very good guide/companion to our reflection on the experience of the pandemic.

Queen’s University (Belfast) has conducted a survey on the pandemic and its affect on faith communities. To access the survey report, click here. It is only 44 pages. The survey and the book by Carr would go well together.

6. Wexford Cycle 2020
Each year, I do a charity cycle for the homeless (Peter McVerry’s Welcome Home). If you’d like to contribute, click  here. Thanks to all who have already contributed. The goal is €10k — nearly there (thanks) and it’s not forbidden to go over the the target!

Every blessing,

Kieran O’Mahony OSA


Dr Kieran J. O’Mahony OSA
Biblical Studies Coordinator