Author's note: In this and each of the following chapters, the Gospel texts that were removed will be referenced, followed by a commentary on the content of those verses and the probable reasons why they were deleted from the New Lectionary. I repeat again for the sake of clarity: the verses referenced here are those that have been removed in the New Lectionary version of the Gospels.
These verses tell us the story of Jesus calling His first disciples, Ss. Peter, Andrew, James, and John. There is nothing seemingly offensive in these verses, it is true, and so those verses (18-23) are found in the New Lectionary. However, they are part of what is called the "short form" of the reading. In many of the Gospel readings, a short form and a longer form are given, the longer form containing verses that are set aside with brackets, which may be omitted from the reading at the discretion of the priest.
In this particular case, it is verses 24-25 which are made optional, and these certainly might be deemed unfit for modern ears, for they read, in part: "they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them."
It will be noted here, at the outset, that the New Lectionary does contains stories of the miracles of Jesus. However, those miracles that could not otherwise be explained by appealing to natural causes have been passed over. It has been posited by some modern scholars that when the Gospels tell of Jesus healing the demon-possessed, the afflicted were not truly possessed by demons (modernists always play down the role of angels and demons in the natural world) but, rather, suffered from epilepsy. In these verses above, however, "demoniacs" and "epileptics" are listed separately, thus showing that there were truly cases of genuine demon-possession that cannot be passed off as epilepsy.
Remember, the role of the exorcist has been virtually absent in the Church since the Second Vatican Council.
These verses were likely eliminated for the very simple reason that they record the words of Jesus as follows: "Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven." The modern Church does not like to talk about the possibility of anyone not receiving their heavenly reward to the fullest.
As with the previous set of verses, so also these verses have been excised from the Lectionary because they speak of the reality of hell: "whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire."
Also included in this set of deleted verses is the following: "Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny."
Those verses have been traditionally used by the saints and the Fathers to defend the Church's doctrine concerning Purgatory. Since Purgatory is a virtual non-entity in the NOM (as a comparison of the prayers on the feast of All Souls' day will show), these verses were left out.
We find in these verses two very offensive teachings: "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell."
Once again, the reality of hell and damnation is passed over in the New Lectionary.
We also read: "I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
This prompts a rather interesting question: has the recent increase in illegitimate annulments been the result of the elimination of such verses, or were these verses eliminated because the hierarchy had already compromised their views on divorce and remarriage? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Here we come across a strange and ubiquitous phenomenon in the New Lectionary. As you may know, much of what is contained in St. Matthew is repeated in St. Mark and St. Luke, and vice versa. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are remarkably similar in their content, varying only in minor details. Very often, the New Lectionary excludes something from St. Matthew that is repeated in St. Mark, or excludes something from St. Luke that is repeated in St. Matthew, and so on. However, when you compare the two (or three) accounts in the synoptic texts, you discover exactly why one version of the text was chosen for the Lectionary and one was not.
In this case, the above verses show Our Lord teaching His disciples the Pater Noster prayer. The Lectionary includes this same account from St. Luke's Gospel, but excludes St. Matthew's version, for three very important reasons.
We read: "And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the pagans do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words." The New Lectionary excludes the idea that the prayers of pagans will not be heard.
We read further, after the actual prayer is given: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." The reality of judgment and damnation is again conveniently excluded.
Finally, the phrase, "on earth as it is in heaven," which follows "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," is not found in St. Luke, but it is found in St. Matthew. This phrase applies both to the petition "thy kingdom come," as well as "thy will be done." The former sentiment, "thy kingdom come... on earth as it is in heaven," is persona non grata in the NOM, because it too strongly supports the concept of the Social Kingship of Christ.
None of these three concepts is found in St. Luke's account of the prayer, and thus, his more "sanitized" version is chosen for the readings.
This passage highlights another sentiment that is not welcome in the NOM: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal." As noted in the introduction, the worthlessness of earthly goods is heavily downplayed in the NOM.
While portions of this passage may be found in the Lectionary under St. Luke's Gospel, there are certain verses here that are peculiar to St. Matthew's Gospel, and were edited from the Lectionary. Those peculiarities are as follows:
"Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you." This text has been traditionally applied to schismatics and heretics.
"The gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Again, for the liberal priests who hold that Hell is empty and that all will be saved, this verse is rather problematic.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits … Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." In the NOM, there is no such thing as a "false prophet" who teaches heresy, and neither is there the possibility of being "thrown into the fire."
We finally come to the first instance of "anti-Semitism" in Scripture. This passage reads: "the crowds were astonished at [Jesus'] teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." This hints at the constant hostility and confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders, making this passage a prime candidate for the waste-basket.
Large sections of this passage are found in the Lectionary under St. Mark's Gospel and St. Luke's Gospel, but what is not found is the story of Jesus healing the demoniac: "And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way … And he said to them, 'Go.' So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters."
While not all suggestions of demon possession are omitted from the Lectionary (Mark 1:32 is included, for example), this instance is rather prolonged and prominent - the demons actually speak, and transfer to another host. Perhaps this was considered too much for the modern mind to actually believe.
The story in this passage of Jesus healing the woman of her issue of blood is contained in Mark 5:21-43 and found in the New Lectionary, along with the story of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter from the dead.
However, this lengthy passage has a "short form" in the New Lectionary, and the entire section of the passage that relates the story of the woman and her issue of blood is made optional.
On the surface, it would seem that this may be another example of the aversion to miracle stories exhibited in the NOM. On the other hand, why would the Lectionary leave in the part about raising a girl from the dead? Which is the greater miracle?
The explanation is not that difficult to see: there is one aspect of this miracle (raising the girl from the dead) that makes it acceptable to the modern mind, namely, that it can be explained away by natural causes. Jesus tells the crowd, "Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping." Thus, the majority of liberal priests will say, "See? Even Jesus admits it wasn't a miracle!" Therefore, this miracle is acceptable in the New Lectionary.
Verses 32-34 are omitted from the New Lectionary and are not found in the other Gospels. In these verses, we read: "And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, 'Never was anything like this seen in Israel.' But the Pharisees said, 'He casts out demons by the prince of demons.'"
In cutting these few verses from the Lectionary, the NOM manages to eliminate both demons and anti-Semitism.