The Message Missing from This Past Week’s Short Form Gospel

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The Message Missing from This Past Week's Short Form Gospel

If your Catholic Church gets a monthly missal one of the things you will notice occa­sion­ally are short form options on some Sun­day read­ings. This is char­ac­ter­ized by a set of brack­ets around part of a read­ing that can be omit­ted if the cel­e­brant of a mass so chooses.

As a rule this hap­pens when a Sunday’s sched­uled pas­sage is par­tic­u­larly long but last week was an excep­tion. There were two choices for the Gospel read­ing. The short option was Matthew 13:4446 which says:

Jesus said to his dis­ci­ples: “The king­dom of heaven is like a trea­sure buried in a field, which a per­son finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the king­dom of heaven is like a mer­chant search­ing for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

This is a per­fectly good Gospel, but you glanced at the length of the full read­ing in the missal you might have said to your­self what I did. “Brack­ets? These verses only add a few sen­tences. Why on earth would the church feel the need to shorten it?

Once I read the miss­ing verses under­stand­ing came to me.

Again, the king­dom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which col­lects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buck­ets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and sep­a­rate the wicked from the right­eous and throw them into the fiery fur­nace, where there will be wail­ing and grind­ing of teeth.

“Do you under­stand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the king­dom of heaven is like the head of a house­hold who brings from his store­room both the new and the old.

Unlike the short form which only teaches of the joys of sal­va­tion, the long form also reminds us there are con­se­quences hor­ri­ble con­se­quences com­plete with the fires of hell and wail­ing and grind­ing of teeth, for those who do not achieve it. This is les­son that Christ teaches often, from the para­ble of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) , the para­bles of the fig tree, the nar­row gate and calls to repen­tance (Luke 13).

Put sim­ply Jesus talks about Hell an awful lot and repeat­edly gave warn­ings about that fate:

Enter through the nar­row gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruc­tion, and those who enter through it are many. How nar­row the gate and con­stricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

But in these Vat­i­can 2 , “who am I to judge days” it seems that some have decided that the faith­ful can’t han­dle this crit­i­cal mes­sage, so it’s best to be skipped.

I think skip­ping those dif­fi­cult verses are under­selling their con­gre­ga­tion but more impor­tantly I would remind those pas­tors mak­ing that choice of the words of God to Ezekiel

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, I have appointed you a watch­man for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me. If I say to the wicked man, You shall surely die; and you do not warn him or speak out to dis­suade him from his wicked con­duct so that he may live: that wicked man shall die for his sin, but I will hold you respon­si­ble for his death. If, on the other hand, you have warned the wicked man, yet he has not turned away from his evil nor from his wicked con­duct, then he shall die for his sin, but you shall save your life.

I think that’s a warn­ing worth heeding.


The Lay­off bleg con­tin­ues. with 8 days to go we’re $1755 away from the goal to make August ded­i­cated to the blog, the new radio show (shows?) and events.

This blog is a ven­ture in cap­i­tal­ism that depends pri­mar­ily on read­ers. You can help finance this by pick­ing up my new book Hail Mary the Per­fect Protes­tant (and Catholic) prayer is now avail­able at Amazon

A por­tion of every sale will go to WQPH 89.3 Catholic Radio) or show your approval by Hit­ting DaTipJar




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and if you really want to help for the long term con­sider sub­scrib­ing and get my book as a premium


Choose a Sub­scrip­tion level



And as I’ve said before if you can’t spare the cash we will be happy to accept your prayers.

If your Catholic Church gets a monthly missal one of the things you will notice occasionally are short form options on some Sunday readings. This is characterized by a set of brackets around part of a reading that can be omitted if the celebrant of a mass so chooses.

As a rule this happens when a Sunday’s scheduled passage is particularly long but last week was an exception.  There were two choices for the Gospel reading.  The short option was Matthew 13:44-46 which says:

Jesus said to his disciples:  “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

This is a perfectly good Gospel, but you glanced at the length of the full reading in the missal you might have said to yourself what I did.  “Brackets?  These verses only add a few sentences.  Why on earth would the church feel the need to shorten it?

Once I read the missing verses understanding came to me.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets.  What is bad they throw away.  Thus it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” 

Unlike the short form which only teaches of the joys of salvation, the long form also reminds us there are consequences horrible consequences complete with the fires of hell and wailing and grinding of teeth, for those who do not achieve it.  This is lesson that Christ teaches often, from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) , the parables of the fig tree, the narrow gate and calls to repentance (Luke 13).

Put simply Jesus talks about Hell an awful lot and repeatedly gave warnings about that fate:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

But in these Vatican 2 , “who am I to judge days” it seems that some have decided that the faithful can’t handle this critical message, so it’s best to be skipped.

I think skipping those difficult verses are underselling their congregation but more importantly I would remind those pastors making that choice of the words of God to Ezekiel

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me.  If I say to the wicked man, You shall surely die; and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live: that wicked man shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death.  If, on the other hand, you have warned the wicked man, yet he has not turned away from his evil nor from his wicked conduct, then he shall die for his sin, but you shall save your life.

I think that’s a warning worth heeding.


The Layoff bleg continues. with 8 days to go we’re $1755 away from the goal to make August dedicated to the blog, the new radio show (shows?) and events.

This blog is a venture in capitalism that depends primarily on readers. You can help finance this by picking up my new book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) prayer is now available at Amazon

A portion of every sale will go to WQPH 89.3 Catholic Radio) or show your approval by Hitting DaTipJar




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and if you really want to help for the long term consider subscribing and get my book as a premium


Choose a Subscription level



And as I’ve said before if you can’t spare the cash we will be happy to accept your prayers.