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Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, August 24, 2014
Lectionary index # 121

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.

Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, August 24, 2014
Before the first reading:

Isaiah spoke several oracles against Judah's pagan neighbors, as we would expect. But he also denounced Jerusalem and its corrupt leaders. This passage predicts the firing of an official of the king's court, and his replacement by a leader who will remind everyone King David from their glorious past.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

In three prior chapters, Saint Paul has figured out how God will bring all peoples into the grace of Jesus Christ, even the Israelites who, by rejecting Jesus, seem to have given up their status as the Chosen People. The brilliance and subtlety of the plan inspire this hymn of God's praise.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Ancient Middle Eastern people were always concerned about how other people regarded them. Jesus, too, asked his friends what others were saying about him. They gave the routine reports, then one different and surprising opinion.

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, Isaiah 22:19-23 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: Chapters 13 through 23 of Isaiah are oracles in which the prophet pronounces God's judgment against various nations. Babylon, Assyria, Syria, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt all take their licks, as you might expect. But chapter 22 is directed at Jerusalem, capital of Judah and home of many of God's chosen people. In particular, a royal official named Shebna gets severely criticized and told that he will have to yield to a replacement named Eliakim. When Isaiah promises the "key of the house of David" to Eliakim, he's summoning the memory of Judah's long-gone greatest king, and the happy memory of an old golden age. We read this passage today only to prepare ourselves to hear the day's gospel, Matthew 16:13-20, where Jesus grants Peter "keys to the kingdom of heaven."

Proclaiming It: So emphasize the parts about the key, and "when he opens, no one will shut," etc.

Here are acceptable pronunciations of the difficult Hebrew names:

Be sure you know how you are going to pronounce them, so you don't stumble over them when you're in the pulpit.

Second Reading, Romans 11:33-36 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Theological Background: What had Paul so excited? In Romans, chapters 9-11, Paul speculates on how the Jews, always God's chosen people, could apparently forfeit their chosen status by failing to accept Jesus. Since we don't get to read the whole passage, let me summarize it. God's plan calls for the Jews to reject Jesus so that a few believers, like Paul, would be forced to carry the good news outside Judaism and evangelize the Gentiles. When Gentiles are converted, the Jews will be impressed, not to mention jealous, and accept Christ themselves. The result will be the salvation of the whole world and the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles, goods even greater than the election of Israel. The ancient promise of God to Abraham will not go unfulfilled.

Proclaiming It: This beautiful passage calls for careful oral interpretation. Saint Paul is so excited about something he has written in prior paragraphs that he bursts into this rhapsodic praise of God. Try to capture Paul's mood when you proclaim this passage to the congregation.

Chances are the congregation won't know the background. But let them know that you, like Saint Paul, have some reason to give glory to God.

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 different first and second readings. His treatment of today's gospel contrasts interestingly with the treatment from Saint Charles Church (below).

Bible Study pages of Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, Mississippi.

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 new liturgy site
Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.
(Caveat lector as of June 29. 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).
This site keeps its back issues posted for only about eight weeks.

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: June 29, 2014