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Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, October 5, 2014
Lectionary index # 139

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-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, October 5, 2014
Before the first reading:

Isaiah speaks symbolically, starting with a pleasant pastoral image, telling a story that takes two surprising twists.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Of all the churches addresed by Paul, the Philippians received the gospel most enthusiastically and supported Paul's missions most vigorously. The Apostle expected the most from them. From prison, where he knows he might never leave, Paul writes them a fond farewell.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Saint Matthew's community were Jews who had become Christians. But they still had to deal with Jews who had not accepted Jesus. Their refusal confounded the believers. It helped them to remember some of Jesus' parables and applications of their Scriptures to similar questions.

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On a new website, read a new essay about these readings for a community responding to the Word as a community.

First reading, Isaiah 5:1-7 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: In the late eighth century B.C.E., God's people in the promised land had become divided into a northern kingdom, Israel, and a southern kingdom, Judah (where Jerusalem was the capital). Assyria was the dominant power in the region, and lay especially heavily on the northern kingdom. Concerned about both kingdoms, Isaiah prophesies relief for both in this way: A new king will come to the throne in the southern kingdom, Judah, and will see to the reunion of the north and south and the expulsion of the Assyrians from the north. However, in the early chapters of this book, the prophet is not criticizing the foreign oppressors, but his own unfaithful people.

A Favorite Literary Devices of the Prophets: A footnote in The New Jerusalem Bible says this of the vineyard image:

Isaiah's Plan and Your Proclamation: So the grapevine images in this reading and today's gospel stand for real people defying their real God. The prophet feels God's frustration in his own heart, and expresses that emphatically. What you want to convey, as lector, is Isaiah's feeling, "I've got to let these people know the seriousness of their sin." Follow the prophet's lead:

Second Reading, Philippians 4:6-9 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Background: The Christians at Philippi had received the gospel enthusiastically and continued to support Paul after he had evangelized them. The Apostle had great affection for the Philippians, as the intimate tone of this letter shows. In today's passage he shows his high expectations for them. (Paul loved all his congregations, but didn't have the same deep affection or high expectations for them all. See the letters to the Galatians and the Corinthians.) Prior chapters have some theological highlights and a moving autobiographical passage. This last chapter, as with most of Paul's letters, contains moral instruction and particulars that pertain to individuals in the addressed community.

The phrases "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, ..." are a kind of list used by Greek moralists of the time. But Paul returns to his usual style when, in the next sentence, he says "Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me."

Proclaiming It: To capture the Apostle's tone when you proclaim this, imagine yourself saying a fond farewell (Paul was in prison, perhaps facing execution, when he wrote this) to a small group of beloved intimates. You need not imagine your deathbed; you could pretend to be a beloved college professor at retirement time, or a parent on the eve of your child's wedding. Just do what it takes to make your congregation feel loved, that you believe in them, that they're capable of whatever is true, honorable and gracious.

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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 explains the texts verse-by-verse, and sometimes word-by-word, with cross-references to other Bible passages. Especially useful if you're puzzled about the meaning of a word or phrase in the readings.
On his page for today, Dan covers our first reading and gospel.
And on his page for next Sunday, Dan treats our second reading of today.

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 Lectionaries of many churches, homilies, art works, movies touching scriptural themes, and other resources on the week's scripture Saint Louis University's excellent new liturgy site
Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(SLU's offering may not yet be 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: August 22, 2014