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Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, C, February 3, 2013 Lectionary index # 72C

A digest for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

The presider may speak these before the first and second readings, and before rising for the gospel acclamation. Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.


Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, February 3, 2013
Before the first reading:

Jeremiah the prophet had to preach to corrupt kings and religious leaders of ancient Judah, who opposed him fiercely. Here God assures Jeremiah that he has always had God's support.
Between responsorial psalm and second reading:

Recently we've heard Saint Paul's teaching about how the spiritual gifts, the charisms of healing, prophecy, teaching, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, etc., are meant to unify the members of the church. Here is the teaching about the spiritual gift that Paul considers the greatest.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Saint Luke's gospel was written for Gentile converts. They knew a little about Judaism and wondered why Jesus had not received a better reception among more Jews. Early in his gospel, Luke address that question.

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, Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Liturgical and Historical Situations: As usual, the first reading today prepares us to hear the gospel, Luke 4:21-30, where Jesus, early in his mission, faces stiff opposition and compares himself to the prophets who came before him. The prophet Jeremiah never held back in describing or complaining about the persecution he suffered. (See Lector's Notes, 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, for more on this.) Here, in the first sentences of his book, he describes how God called him, bolstered him, and predicted the opposition Jeremiah would endure.

Proclaiming It: Express carefully that Jeremiah is relating something God said to him. Before you even speak, pause. Pause longer than you think is necessary. Then say the first sentence solemnly:

The Word of the LORD came to me, saying:

Then begin the actual words God spoke. Read these slowly, even tenderly. You're Jeremiah, crusty, battle-scarred veteran prophet, relating the story of how The Lord God called and forewarned you. For God's words, speak like God spoke, encouraging someone you love dearly, and who dearly needs your encouragement. Where you use bold images ("fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass"), speak boldly.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: As Lector's Notes have noted on other Sundays when we read from 1 Corinthians 12-14, among the Christians living in the Greek seaport Corinth, there were diverse manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Prophets, preachers, healers, teachers, you name it, the Spirit bestowed the job on someone there. These folks often exercised their gifts in spectacular, ecstatic ways that drew a lot of attention, as they do today among people who attend revivals and the crusades of some faith-healers.

Paul spends chapters 12, 13 and 14 of this letter trying to get the Corinthians to enjoy and express their gifts in ways that give strength to the community and glory to God. For the natural tendency of some of the supernaturally endowed was to glorify themselves with their God-given power.

So why does Paul care so much about the Corinthians' use of the spiritual gifts? It's his goals: The unification of the church by the humbling of all members, the squelching of their rivalries, and the re-direction of their efforts to mutual service and mission. Understand that, and make those your own goals, and you'll proclaim the reading properly.

Today you get to read in their context the sentences familiar from so many weddings, "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love ..." It's consoling to realize that, while the Spirit may not grant one tongues or healing powers, one can always choose to exercise the gift of love, which Paul ranks higher than all the rest.

Proclaiming It: In the first sentence, emphasize the superlatives "greatest" and "more excellent." This lets the congregation know you're going to compare and contrast some things. In what follows, use contrasting tones, and variations in your pace, to contrast each of the less important spiritual gifts with the gift of love.

Contrast is the rule in the last paragraph, too. Don't rush it and don't blunt the contrasts. When Paul says "when the perfect comes" and "then I shall know fully," he refers to a future divine intervention, somewhat unspecified, that will let us know everything more clearly than we can know now. Your proclamation should make your hearers eager for that intervention.

Hear another lector's proclamation of the Second Reading. Larry Grime of St. Rose Parish, Perrysburg, Ohio, provided these resources.
If they don't play on your computer in a satisfactory way, just download the file of your choice to your disk. In most browsers, that means right-click on the link and choose "Save link as ..." or hold down the Shift key and left-click.
Note that the links are a bit experimental. That is, it's not certain that the links, as written, will open the right program within your browser to let you hear the files. If you have trouble with any, contact me with a description of what you tried.
To hear the proclamation on your Windows Media Player, Click here. To hear the proclamation on your mp3 player, Click here.


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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.

Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
Dan's undated page has the heading "Epiphany 4."


Archived weekly column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J., from 2004. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137)

The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes The Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University, an excellent Sunday liturgy-preparation site

including Reginald Fuller's commentary.

(Caveat lector. As of December 15, 2012, Lector's Notes' author is speculating about the exact URL of SLU's January 21 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: December 15, 2012