Jesus and Paul did most of their teaching in synogogues.

Monday, 9/1/14

Since many Gospel stories have Jesus or St. Paul speaking in synagogues, it helps to picture a typical synagogue. There were over four hundred of them in Jerusalem in Our Lord’s time. The simple memberships demands were that people had a minyan of ten Jewish men.

Where our Catholic chapels are focused on our tabernacles, that place of honor in the synagogues was given over to a cabinet known as the Ark. It contained the scrolls of the Law and the Prophets, and it had seats of honor in front of it.

The meeting were passed with singing Psalms, reading from the holy scrolls, and comments on them. No official liturgy or special clergy was called for. Any adult could be allowed to speak; and men and women were usual seated apart.

Archaeologists feel confident that they have found the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus initiated his public teaching. An interesting thing about the Gospel accounts of that synagogue is that people could gather on its flat roof from which its tiles could be removed to allow entry into the synagogue from above.

With the Jews believing that their Sabbath began at sundown on Friday that was the hour when believers would fold up their shop wares, preceding then into the synagogue. I wrote an 8th Grade play in which they filed into the synagogue singing:

            The synagogue becomes our home
 when the sun sinks out of sight,
            The last day of the weary week,
            holy Sabbath Friday night.

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