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First Sunday of Advent, Year B, November 30, 2014
Lectionary index # 2

Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

Who should announce these before the first and second readings, and before the gospel acclamation? They're not Scripture, nor homiletic, so they shouldn't be delivered from the ambo. They're a modest teaching. So let the presider say them from the chair. Let the lector turn toward the presider and listen.
Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.

First Sunday of Advent, Year B, November 30, 2014
Before the first reading:

After two generations in exile in Babylon, the Jews were allowed to return to their home in Judah. They believed they had been sent to exile as punishment for their sins. They were repentant and hopeful. The third prophet to bear the name Isaiah speaks of their mixed feelings.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Corinth was a young, somewhat wild Christian community anxious about the imminent return of Christ to bring history to an end. Saint Paul reassures them by reminding them of the gifts that the Spirit of God has already given them. They're ready, and God will keep them so.
Before the gospel acclamation:

The people of Jesus' time lived in the present, without thinking much about the future. Jesus feels an urgency about the works of God that remain unfinished, that can only be completed by the return of the Son of Man. Jesus tries to stir up that urgency in the hearts of his disciples.

First reading, Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: Around 600 BC, the Babylonians took the Jews out of the promised land and kept them in exile (a.k.a. the Babylonian Captivity) for about 60 years. When Cyrus, a new emperor, took over Babylon, he sent the Jews home. This reading is set in that troubled period when Judah was trying to put itself back together after returning from Exile. To get the flavor of it, imagine how American Southerners might have felt during Reconstruction, or a contemporary family might feel when they return to a fire-damaged home.

Proclaiming It: The reading contains a pathetic mix of feelings: guilt, outrage at God alternating with praise of God, humility, anguish and hope. Read it to yourself one sentence at a time, naming the feeling captured in that one sentence. Then do the next sentence, and so on. Make a mental catalog (or even a paper list) of each feeling.

Then practice reading it aloud, making sure you pause wherever the feeling changes. This is a hard passage to read. It's even harder for a listener to understand if the sentences just tumble out rapidly. Give your listeners all the help you can.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: We wait for Christ in two ways. The early Sundays of Advent always carry on the end-of-the-world theme, from the last Sundays of the preceding liturgical year. In this theme, we wait for Christ to come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead. The later Sundays of Advent celebrate a different theme, the coming of the Messiah in the flesh, when Jesus was born of Mary.

The Historical Situation: Today's second reading comes from an early letter of Saint Paul, written while he and his audience were sure that Christ's second coming was just around the corner.

Proclaiming It: To bring this out, when you read it, emphasize the phrases that appear here in bold print:

...Likewise, the witness I bore to Christ has been so confirmed among you that you lack no spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Several other commentaries on these passages. All are thoughtful, all quite readable, from the scholarly to the popular.
Links may be incomplete more than a few weeks before the "due date."
Father Roger Karban of Belleville, Illinois, USA, writes a newspaper column about every Sunday's readings. Here are his essays for today's passages, from: courtesy of The Evangelist, official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, or of The Belleville Messenger, of the Diocese of Belleville.

Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here, at the site of FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.

Saint Louis University's excellent new liturgy site

Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

I found John Pilch's background on today's gospel very thought-provoking. He tells us both what we have to change in order to understand Jesus' words in the gospel, and what Jesus wanted his hearers to change in their relationships and in how they prepared for the future.

(Caveat lector. As of October 6, 2014, Lector's Notes' author is speculating about the exact URL of SLU's offering, since it's not yet posted. If you get a 404 Not Found, try here).

Bible Study pages of Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, Mississippi.
This page gives a short history of the development of advent and a meditation on how the modern liturgy expresses its many meanings.
Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group. Dan explains the texts verse-by-verse, and sometimes word-by-word, with cross-references to other Bible passages. Especially useful if you're puzzled about the meaning of a word or phrase in the readings. Archived 2002 column of the late Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.) From the site of the Saint Louis Review. The Text This Week Links to Lectionaries of many churches, homilies, art works, movies touching scriptural themes, and other resources on the week's scripture

The Lectionary selections in the frame at the left, if any, are there for your convenience. The publishers of the page in that frame have no connection, except for membership in the one Body of Christ, with the publisher of this page. Likewise the publishers of the pages on the links above.

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Last modified: October 6, 2014