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The Body and Blood of Christ, Year C,
May 30 or June 2, 2013
Lectionary index # 169

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.

The Body and Blood of Christ, Year C, May 30 or June 2, 2013
Before the first reading:

To encourage his late Jewish readers to hold their heads high among their pagan neighbors, the author of Genesis recalls how an ancient priest-king saluted their ancestor Abram, whom we know as Abraham.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Paul the Apostle needed to correct several abuses among the Christians at Corinth, including discourtesies at their celebrations of the Lord's Supper. Here he makes a rare invocation of tradtion that he received from even earlier Christians. He connects the Lord's Supper with the whole mystery of Christ.
Before the gospel acclamation:

An unlikely wilderness setting, an unusually large crowd, an unprecedented mix of men, women and children in public, all make this familiar miracle story even more remarkable.

To pay for use of the words above, please subtract an equal number of optional words from other places in the liturgy (click here for some suggestions).

First reading, Genesis 14:18-20 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: The Abram in this reading is, of course, the man we are soon to know as the patriarch Abraham, founder of the people who became our ancestors in the faith. This story is from very early in Abraham's saga. He has just defeated some local "kings" and recovered from them captive kinsfolk and property.

While Melchizedek (pronunciation) may have been a "priest of God Most High," remember that God was only beginning to reveal himself to Abraham in the special ways that would become the kernel of our tradition. So though the bread and wine mentioned are highly suggestive for us at this late date, it would be a mistake to read into this story more than the participants meant by their gestures.

Your Proclamation: The author's intention was to enhance the prestige of his ancestor Abraham, by telling of his exploits among his contemporaries (you can read the details leading up to today's passage here; and if you read the footnotes, you'll find interesting details about the term "God Most High"). Why would the author want to do that? To encourage his readers to hold up their heads among their contemporaries, to think of themselves as a people with a special calling from God, a people different from their many pagan neighbors. To be faithful to the author's intention, emphasize the praise that the foreigner Melchizedek heaps on Abram. Make Melchizedek sound like an old man who thought he had seen it all, but who is compelled to exclaim that this Abram has a really special relationship with God.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 11:23-36 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: This is one of the few places in his writings where Paul solemnly states that he is handing on a tradition older than his own vocation as a Christian. The words he quotes are very similar to those ascribed to Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Surprisingly, Paul quotes Jesus almost nowhere else.

As the larger context of 1 Corinthians 11 shows, Paul has to be very clear about his authority here because he's correcting the Corinthians severely. Misconduct at the Eucharist was one of several abuses for which the Apostle takes them to task, as readers of the whole letter, and of Lector's Notes pertaining to selections from it, know well.

To proclaim the death of the Lord is to confess one's faith in the whole mystery of Christ and all that he means for us.

Your Proclamation: The congregation listening to you is sure to be quite steeped already in the truth that Jesus gave bread and wine, declaring them to be his body and the new covenant in his blood. What you might try to let them hear anew is the doubled command, "Do this in remembrance of me." We're asked to do more than receive Jesus' gift, we're asked to do it. A pause before each such invocation would drive that home.
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.

Archived weekly 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 homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes

Saint Louis University's excellent Sunday liturgy-preparation site

(Caveat lector. As of May 4, 2013, 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).

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: May 4, 2013