Lector's Notes

To the home page

of Lector's Notes

Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A,
August 31, 2014
Lectionary index # 124

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-second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, August 31, 2014
Before the first reading:

Jeremiah spoke the word of God to faithless kings and people in Judah's captial Jerusalem around 600 years before Jesus. Powerful people persecuted him relentlessly. In this passage he starts by regretting his calling to be a prophet.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Saint Paul urges the Christians in Rome not to conform to the customs of their neighbors, but tune themselves to the will of God.
Before the gospel acclamation:

In last week's gospel, Peter identified Jesus as the Anointed of God. Now Jesus reveals the consequences of his mission. Peter takes exception.

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 20:7-9 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: Last week's reading of Matthew 16:13-20 marked a turning-point in our journey through that gospel. Jesus' identity as Messiah and Son of the Living God becomes public. In this week's passage, Matthew 16:21-27, Jesus begins to explain the implications of his identity: "he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised."

The Historical Situation: As almost always, the first reading prepares us to hear the gospel. Jeremiah was certainly a prototype of the suffering Christ. The prophet lived from about 650 B.C. to perhaps 580 B.C. Most of his work was in Judah's capital Jerusalem. He tried to keep the people and several kings faithful to God amidst an atmosphere of political intrigue and backstabbing like that which prevails in this writer's own capital today*. Jeremiah was blunt about what was right and what was not, and he suffered at the hands of the powerful because of his outspokenness.

What's interesting about this prophet is that he did not bear his persecution stoically, but complained bitterly to God. His outspoken protests are remembered in the fifty-cent English word jeremiad, which means an elaborate and prolonged lamentation or tale of woe. Today's passage is the purest of jeremiads.

Proclaiming It: Proclaim this with great drama and irony in your voice. Hit hard the word "duped" in the first sentence, then hit hard the expression "let myself be duped." When you say that the word of God you are stifling "becomes like fire burning in my heart," let the congregation feel the heat! You are trying to convey the prophet's anguish, and you are preparing us to hear the day's ominous gospel passage. This is not bland prose. If you believe grace builds on nature, don't proclaim this blandly.

Second Reading, Romans 12:1-2 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Theological Background: Paul's letters usually end with several paragraphs of moral instruction. One of the ways religious people define themselves is by how their morals differ from those of other religions. (One could say this of most cultural groups, whether the differences are in morals, religion, dress, food, housing, marriage customs, politics, or any behavior.) Here Paul is telling his mixed Jewish and Gentile Christian audience how they differ both from old-fashioned Jews and from pagans. The "mercies of God" prompting these differences have been described earlier in the letter, as in the second reading from three Sundays ago, and the Romans passage from the Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The two verses of today's reading are, for Paul, just a high-level introduction to the moral teaching he wants to give (and that teaching is about how Christians should respond to the "mercies of God" detailed in eleven prior chapters). The 1970 edition of the New American Bible summaries Paul's teaching on the Christian sacrificial way of life this way:

Proclaiming It: The congregation won't get to hear the moral teaching this year, just this introduction. So your proclamation is necessarily out of context and therefore not easy. Emphasize the word spiritual in the phrase "your spiritual worship." That may distinguish it in the listener's minds form merely formal, ritualistic worship. Emphasize the phrase "that you may discern what is the will of God," since that is the part that gives the listeners the most responsibility.

comments powered by Disqus
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. In accord with the Lectionary of his church, Dan covers Romans 12:1-8 two weeks before Catholics read Romans 12:1-2. In Dan's study for today, he covers another original jeremiad, chapter 15, verses 15-21. 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 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.

* The writer lives in the United States, patriotically paying taxes, promoting informed democratic participation in public life, and rejoicing in the catholicity of the Church and in the knowldege that Lector's Notes are read in many other countries.

Return to Lector's notes home page

Send email to the author.

Last modified: June 29, 2014