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Australian Biblical Review


ISSN 0045-0308

BOOK REVIEW  Published in Volume 61, 2013

MARK O’BRIEN, OP, Sunday Matters: Reflections on the Lectionary Readings for Year C (Adelaide: Australian Theological Forum, 2012). Pp. 160. Paperback. $15.95.

Mark O’Brien has provided an invaluable service for homilists, bible study and lectio divino groups in his succinct commentaries on the readings for the Sundays and Solemnities in Year C. As a specialist Old Testament exegete and theologian, O’Brien brings years of scholarship and skill to the task of making these ancient texts relevant for the 21st Century. Each Sunday commentary is around eight hundred words and the focus varies. At times more emphasis is given to the Old Testament reading, at other times the Gospel or Epistle. The complexity of the readings guides this choice. The study begins with a short reflection on the aims of the commentary and the various ways of reading the Scriptures. For those who have never formally studied scripture these opening pages provide a helpful and lucid introduction to ways of interpretation. These pages are followed by a brief introduction to the Gospel being read in the Liturgical Year C, namely Luke. Following the commentaries, O’Brien provides a list of further reading, an index of biblical passages, and a very helpful subject index.

When reading an individual commentary O’Brien draws out the relationship between the readings, particularly the Old Testament and the Gospel, as well us posing questions that challenge contemporary listeners/readers to reflect on their own situations. In this way, these texts can still have a contemporary ‘edge.’

One addition I would like to see in any commentary on the Readings is some additional instruction for the homilist on how to present the role of the Jews and Romans in the Passion narratives. There is no doubt that more education needs to happen on the historical circumstances resulting in Jesus’ crucifixion that can correct past judgments on not only the Jews in the narrative, but on the Jewish people as a whole. The homilist has a great responsibility in this regard; those engaged in biblical education and presenting material for homilists can provide the necessary information regarding the historical context at the time of Jesus’ death, as well as the particular polemic of the evangelist in the later part of the 1st century.

O’Brien has also published similar commentaries for Years A and B.

Review by
MCD University of Divinity, Melbourne