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Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C,
October 6, 2013
Lectionary index # 141

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.

October 6, 2013, 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Before the first reading:

At the time of this prophecy, God's people had been unfaithful. A pagan nation is making war against them. The prophet takes this for granted: misfortunes like war are punishment for infidelity. What he complains to God about is that the punishment is excessive and comes from the hands of pagans.
Between psalm and second reading:

The veteran Saint Paul had made the young Timothy a bishop by the laying on of hands. Paul, now a prisoner, writes to encourage Timothy to live out his calling.
Before the gospel acclamation:

This section of Saint Luke's gospel gives us two of Jesus' sayings: one about faith and one about how demanding it can be to live as a disciple.

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, Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4a [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical and Literary Situation: The first two chapters of the book of Habakkuk (HAB uh cook, with a short A) take the form of a dialog: the prophet complains, the Lord answers, the prophet complains again, and again the Lord replies. The setting is around 600 B.C.E. God's people are in trouble. They have been unfaithful, and another nation is making war against them. Habakkuk takes this for granted. People in his time believed that misfortune, whether personal or national, is deserved punishment for sin. It's that simple.

So that's not what makes Habakkuk complain. What puzzles and irritates him is that Judah's punishment comes at the hands of brutal pagans who are overly aggressive. As The New Jerusalem Bible puts it, "Why should the bad be punished by the worse? Why should [the Lord] appear to strengthen the arm of injustice?" To use such peoples is unworthy of the the holiness of God. Furthermore, the prophet thinks the punishment has gone on quite long enough, and that the excesses of the enemy are going unpunished. Habakkuk breaks new ground by demanding of God an account of all that God has let go on. (Our Lectionary selection draws from the prophet's first complaint and the Lord's second reply. The whole dialog is much richer.)

Your Proclamation: As lector, make the complaint-response structure clear by an appropriate pause and contrasting tones of voice. Habakkuk, in the first sentences, should sound very impatient, on the border of outrage. Can't imagine how that sounds? Remember in high school how you had to do Patrick Henry's speech from the American Revolution, "Give me liberty or give me death!" The buildup to that climax is the kind of outrage you need. So is the indictment of King George III in the United States' Declaration of Independence (1776).

Pause dramatically.

Then, slowly, deliberately, "The Lord answered me and said: ..." Continue slowly and with patience in your voice. Say the final sentence with firmness, "but the just one, because of his faith, shall live". (Saint Paul was to make much of this sentence in his letter to the Romans. It's the sentence that ties the first reading most clearly to today's gospel.)

Second Reading, 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14a [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Background: Remember that Timothy was a person, not a congregation. And Paul is speaking to him personally here. Paul had laid hands on Timothy, the gesture we still use in confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick. Timothy received gifts of the Spirit then, but he is responsible for choosing to exercise them (stirring them into flame). Paul refers to his own imprisonment, and does not want that condition to bring shame on his protegé Timothy.

Proclaiming It: These are straightforward words of encouragement from "an old hand" to a young servant of the Lord and of the church. Read them that way, more formally than you would a "pep talk," but in that spirit. Decide which words apply not only to Timothy but to yourself and the people in the assembly who will hear you, and emphasize those (perhaps "power and love and self-control" and "bear your share of hardship for the gospel"). Be sure to contrast "spirit of cowardice" with "power and love and self-control."

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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."
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.

Saint Louis University's excellent new liturgy site

Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector. As of August 31, 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).

Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
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 essay addresses today's second reading

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 31, 2013