It was before Easter that I started to look at the Lectionary, to see which passages are omitted from the Gospels read on Sundays over the three year cycle. It all started because I had frequently noticed that my missal showed some verses were omitted, and I wondered why that was.
I was particularly shocked at how much of Our Lord's discourse about His relationship with the Father is omitted from the reading of St John's Gospel.
Anyway, here is my first attempt at discerning some patterns.
1 Bad news stories: eg The Massacre of the Innocents; The prince of this world is on his way; They will expel you from the synagogues;
2 Many Miracles: eg the Gadarene swine; Healing the lame, the blind, the deaf, the crippled and many besides, and the feeding of the four thousand; Cures at Gennesaret; The return of the Unclean Spirit.
3 Many Criticisms of the Pharisees and Jewish Leaders: Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees...; If a man swears by the temple...; Straining for the gnat...; Whitened sepulchres...; Fathers slew the prophets...; Brood of vipers...; ... as a hen gathers chickens... By what authority? You have defeated God’s commandment to establish your own tradition: Corban, Pharisees and lawyers rebuked: filled with wickedness; unmarked tombs; unendurable burdens; prophets murdered between altar and sanctuary; will not let others enter... Yeast of the Pharisees.
If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven; Not parading good deeds, praying in private; Fasting in secret; Do not profane sacred things; False prophets.
5.2 Difficult ones (?)
In truth I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom; If anyone is ashamed of me... Who rejects you, rejects me... Happy the womb that bore you... Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit;
5.3 Sayings about the Son and the Father, and the Divine Claim eg The light of the world, the Father is my witness, I am not of this world, I preach what the Father has taught me, if you were Abraham’s children, the devil is your father... you are a Samaritan, and possessed, Abraham saw my day and rejoiced, Before Abraham was, I AM. What the Father has told me is what I speak. Be brave: I have conquered the world.
6 Prophesies: eg Jesus as Servant of the Lord and quotation from Isaiah; The Sign of Jonah; Prophecy of Death and Resurrection, The Son of Man to be handed over... Weeping for Jerusalem: not one stone left... Nathaniel under the tree; you will see heaven laid open; Caiaphas: it is better that one man die: a high priestly prophesy.
7 Some link passages: eg When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.
So my initial analysis is, firstly, that there is a pattern of avoiding negative passages (1, 3, 5.1, 5.2), and in particular, negative passages about the Jewish Leaders.
Whilst I can understand that, and the sensitivities that might drive it, I think it betrays an odd way to read the Gospel. Perhaps if we had had more readings about Whitened Sepulchres, Catholics, (bishops and others) would have examined their consciences a little more rigorously, a little more regularly. Reading the Gospel as about 'them long ago' is missing rather a lot of the point...
I also wonder whether there is something about prophecy which worried the selectors? I know some critics claim that passages which prophesy (for example) the fall of Jerusalem must obviously be later than the fall of Jerusalem... I hope that is not part of the thinking here.
I further wonder if there is an attempt to sanitise Our Lord a bit, by (let us say) de-emphasising negative/difficult bits...
I suspect that St Luke's version of the Our Father is used to shock us out of familiarity: I rather hope not, but as I say, I suspect it to be the case.
I think the whole process is very much of its time (1960s) and will say more about this in a subsequent post, with reference to Bugnini's declared modus operandi.
And as I say, I will welcome others' comments, reflections, disputations, and so on.