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Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, July 20, 2014
Lectionary index # 106

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.

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, July 20, 2014
Before the first reading:

For Jews living among sophisticated pagans in ancient Alexandria, the book of Wisdom provided some arguments for defending the faith. This discussion is about how a truly powerful God does not need to take revenge.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Much of the letter to the Romans is about how we cannot earn on our own the approval of God, but God mercifully saves us anyway. The same can be said of how we pray.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Jesus uses three agricultural images to describe the reign of heaven. From modest beginnings come unexpected results.

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, Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: As usual, a lector should start with a reading of the day's gospel passage, Matthew 13:24-43. It contains a few more of Jesus' agricultural parables about the reign of God. The emphases on God's power over evildoers and non-believers, and God's forbearance, underlie the choice of first reading.

The Historical Situation: About a century before the birth of Jesus, a learned and faithful Jew assessed the situation for Jews in the great cosmopolitan city Alexandria in Egypt. Many Jews there had "assimilated" into the dominant pagan culture. They and native pagans sometimes ridiculed practicing Jews, so our sage wrote a book of Wisdom, to bolster the faith of his friends. (The Church cites this book often in the Lectionary, so this introduction may be familiar to users of Lector's Notes.) One of the author's overall goals is to remind his fellow Jews of their ancient heritage, and to emphasize God's providence for these people throughout their history.

Today's verses come from a the section of the book, Wisdom, 11:17-12:27, called "A digression on God's mercy." And it really does digress. But one solid point it makes is that this God (and, it is implied, unlike all other gods) is so powerful and wise that he need not be vengeful and quick to punish. This God can afford to let his enemies live, for they can never prevail, and given time, might repent. That's the admirable God addressed in our passage today.

Proclaiming It: This reading is in the second person, addressed by the speaker to God. That's unusual among our readings. It will catch the congregation unawares, unless you begin your proclamation carefully. Speak the first sentence slowly, emphasizing the words "god" and "you" in the first line. The final clause of the first sentence means "God, you don't have to prove to anyone that what you do is fair."

Our second sentence ("... your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.") captures most clearly the point of the whole passage (and the whole digression), so state it slowly and clearly. Pause before the final sentence, where the emphasis changes from the power of God to the lessons people should draw from dealing with such a God.

Second Reading, Romans 8:26-27 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Theological Background: Like previous selections from Romans, chapter 8, this is about how helpless we are on our own, but how the Spirit of God nevertheless empowers us. Today the subject is prayer, which we can't muster by ourselves, but which the Spirit supplies in our hearts.

Proclaiming It: To prepare to read this, let yourself experience the lesson taught here. That is, ask the Spirit to fill your heart with gratitude.

In your actual proclamation, try to answer the question, "What's one important thing for which we need the help of God's Spirit?" The answer is "How to pray as we ought." Let your listeners hear the accent on "pray." And in the last sentence, show how the Spirit fulfills this need by emphasizing the synonym for "pray," "intercedes."

Extra! Each Sunday passage from Romans in context: Click here to see a table summarizing the readings from Romans from the 9th to the 24th Sundays of Ordinary Time, this year.

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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."
Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
Dan covers two possible first readings, Wisdom (of Solomon) 12:13, 16-19 and Isaiah 44:6-8, Psalm 86:11-17, and for second reading today, Romans 8:12-25, plus Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
See Dan's notes for Romans 8:26-39 (including the verses of this Sunday's Catholic selection) on his page for next Sunday

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.

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.

The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes. Saint Louis University's excellent new liturgy site.

Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector as of May 28, 2014. Lector's Notes' author is speculating about the exact future URL of SLU's pages for this Sunday, since they're 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 28, 2014