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Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C,
September 22, 2013
Lectionary index # 135

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.

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.

Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, year C, September 22, 2013
Before the first reading:

Some wealthy members of the tribe of Israel had forgotten their people's humble origins. They were taking advantage of the poor, cheating on their nation's weights and measures, and violating the Sabbath. The prophet Amos mocks their scheming thoughts.
Between psalm and second reading:

In this reading, an early church leader reminds another leader that the mission of Christ was universal, so our prayers and concern should extend toward all, not just other Christians.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Today's gospel has two parts: first a parable about acting decisively in the face of crisis, meant perhaps to prepare disciples for the coming of the reign of God. Then there is a series of loosely related sayings about the use of wealth.

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, Amos 8:4-7 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: The gospel today, Luke 16:1-13, is a collection of Jesus' sayings about wealth.

The Historical Situation: For a long time, the territory we call the Holy Land was divided between a northern kingdom called Israel and a southern kingdom known as Judah. The city Jerusalem was in Judah. In the northern kingdom, at Bethel (Hebrew for "House of God") there was a very ancient shrine. Its priesthood was older than that established by Moses' brother Aaron. Israel was prosperous, at least for the upper classes, in the 8th century B.C.E., and the Bethel priests were comfortable cronies of the king.

In this milieu lived a man named Amos, street-smart and a savvy observer of the human condition. He knew his tradition. Amos remembered how his people's God had chosen a rag-tag band of slaves in Egypt, made them his own, and led them to freedom. Amos knew that this God of the poor was not happy with the current neglect and exploitation of the poor by the powerful. So he spoke up.

(We met Amos on The Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, and we'll hear from him again next Sunday.)

Amos starts by deriding the grasping of the powerful, mocking their private thoughts. In those days, certain commercial activities were forbidden on the Sabbath and during days around the new moon, so the chiselers want those periods to be over. To diminish the ephah (EF uh, with a short e in the first syllable) and add to the shekel (SHEK el, with short e's) is to tamper with the weights, measures and currencies of the society. The word for the useless part of the wheat harvest is pronounced "REF use" with the accent on the first syllable and a short e sound there.

Your Prophetic Proclamation: When you read these secret thoughts of these nasty people, make a caricature of them with your voice. That's what Amos was doing. Pause at the end of the quoted thoughts because you are changing characters.

Assume a more solemn voice when you pronounce the Lord's sworn oath. Speak slowly and threateningly. You've mocked the wicked, now you're pronouncing sentence on them.

One more detail: What is the pride of Jacob? Remember this nation was founded by Abraham, whose son Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob's other name was Israel. Both names are applied to the nation as a whole. So swearing by the "pride of Jacob" is an appeal to all the greatness in the heritage of these people.

Second Reading, 1 Timothy 2:1-8 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical and Theological Situation: In the beginning, Jesus struggled to get Jews to recognize that there could be a good Samaritan (see the gospel of ten weeks ago, Luke 10:25-37 and a faithful Roman centurion (see Matthew, chapter 8). Then Saint Paul struggled to get Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians to respect each other (see particularly the letters to the Galatians, Romans, and Ephesians).

Now this author had to remind Timothy (a community leader whose office evolved into the modern office of bishop) and his congregation that God's concern extends to all people, not just themselves. Some scholars think some early Christians may have refused to pray for pagans, and this passage means to correct that. And the author insists again that he was called to take the gospel to all peoples, so refusing to pray for them is hardly right. The teaching is reflected in our modern Prayer of the Faithful, which should embrace the needs of the whole world, not just those of the church.

Your Proclamation: The passage has four parts:

In proclaiming this, emphasize the word everyone the two times it occurs, and all in the phrase "as ransom for all." Such a proclamation will be faithful to the inspired author's intent, for the reasons given above.

Another historical note: In a few weeks we'll read passages that reveal how the earliest Christians expected Jesus to return in glory very soon, and to bring history to its climax. Today's second reading is clearly composed later, after that expectation had changed. In this passage, we see a church concerned with getting along in the larger pagan society. They realize they're in this for a long haul.

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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
Saint Louis University's excellent new liturgy site
Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector. As of July 29, 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).

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 Archived weekly column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.) From 2001, this column discusses today's first reading and gospel.

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: July 29, 2013