One of the aspects of the new Lectionary that is praised most frequently by (nearly) all and (completely) sundry is that we get all of the Gospels, and so much more of the Bible all together.
Of course we do get more scripture read at Mass, but I have long been intrigued by the 'all of the Gospels' claim, as I have noticed some gaps in the verses shown in my missal.
Having a spare hour or two, I thought that I would sit down and look at the gaps to see if a pattern emerges: is this just editing, (eg avoiding duplicating passages from across the Synoptic Gospels) or is something else going on?
Of course, it took hours to get anywhere (and but for this very helpful site, would have taken even longer.)
So I have only analysed the first half of St Matthew's Gospel so far, (and relevant parallel passages in St Mark's and St Luke's). I have been looking at Sunday readings, as that is what the vast bulk of Catholics (who attend Mass at all) will hear.
Here are my findings so far: I list the verses of St Matthew's Gospel that are not read out in the cycle of Sunday readings; and then note whether they are covered by a passage read from one of the other synoptics, whether they are unique to St Matthew, or whether the parallel passages are also omitted from the other synoptics read on Sundays.
I have emboldened those passages that I think are cut without a parallel passage being read at another time, (or in a couple of places, where the passage from St Luke is much shorter than St Matthew's).
I have also assumed that the longer versions of the passages are read, where there are optional shorter versions, though I realise that in practice, the reverse is normative in many parishes.
Missing from St Matthew...
2, 16-18 Massacre of the Innocents [nowhere else]
4, 24 - 25 Curing all the sick, large crowds followed him from various parts [St Luke’s account used]
5, 12b This is how they persecuted the prophets before you [nowhere else]
6, 1-23 Not parading good deeds, praying in private [nowhere else];
The Our Father [St Luke’s shorter version used]
If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven [St Mark’s version of this also cut]
Fasting in secret [nowhere else]
Treasures,moths and thieves...eye as lamp of the body [St Luke’s account used]
7, 1- 22 Do not judge [St Luke’s account used]
Do not profane sacred things [nowhere else]
Effective prayer [St Luke’s account used]
Golden Rule [St Luke’s account used]
The Narrow gate [St Luke’s shorter version used]
False prophets [nowhere else]
Know a tree by its fruits [St Luke’s account used]
7,28 He taught with authority [St Mark’s account used]
Cure of a leper [St Mark’s account used]
Many others [St Mark’s account used]
Foxes have holes... and leave the dead to bury their dead, [St Luke’s account used]
Persecution [St Luke’s account used]
John the Elijah who was to return - corresponding passage from Matt ch 17 also cut.
Picking corn on the sabbath [St Mark’s account used]
Cure of the man with a withered hand [St Mark’s account used]
Pharisees plotting against him; Jesus as Servant of the Lord and quotation from Isaiah [nowhere else]
Miracles ‘by the power of Beelzebul’ [St Mark’s account used]
A tree known by its fruit [St Luke’s account used]
The Sign of Jonah (and the reference to Jonah in Ch 16 is also cut)
The return of the Unclean Spirit (and the corresponding passage from St Luke is also cut)
Our Lord’s family [St Mark’s account used)
I find this interesting, and think it important. Firstly, because we have been told that the new Lectionary means we hear the whole Gospel (see for example the CTS booklet reviewed here), and that is not the case.
Secondly, it seems that someone, somewhere has decided that there are parts of the Gospel which should not be read out on Sundays in our Churches. I can understand not reading out duplicate (or near duplicate) passages from the Synoptics. But what is wrong with the Gadarene Swine? Why is St John the Baptist's execution airbrushed out? Or the Sign of Jonah? Or the Return of the Unclean Spirit? I am genuinely curious! Who decided? And on what grounds?
I will continue with this analysis, if anyone is interested; firstly completing the Gospels, and then looking at the Epistles (time and God willing). Eventually I will endeavour to see if there is a pattern to what has been omitted: and I will be very interested in any insights others may have into this.