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Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, October 30, 2011
Lectionary index # 151

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.

Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, October 30, 2011
Before the first reading:

After the return of the people Judah from exile, their priests were indifferent about their duties and unfair in their judgments. The prophet Malachi expresses God's outrage at this.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Saint Paul contrasts himself to some other religious teachers who had visited the Thessalonians. Paul's credentials include the fact that he supported himself during his visit.
Before the gospel acclamation:

The community of the evangelist Matthew continues to ponder why other Jews rejected Jesus, and the nature of real leadership among God's people.

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, Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: This year, we've been making our way through the chapters of Saint Matthew's gospel every Sunday of Ordinary Time. The editors of the lectionary usually pick a first reading that resonates with the day's gospel. In today's gospel, Jesus criticizes the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day. Today's first reading prepares us to hear that.

The Historical Situation: The priests of this period (around 450 BC, after Judah's return from the exile in Babylon) were indifferent about their rituals and their teaching responsibilities, and often unfair in the judgments they made among the people. Malachi expresses God's outrage at this.

Proclaiming It: Notice that the person of the speaker changes in the last three short sentences. Where the prophet had been speaking in the voice of God, he switches to his own voice for three rhetorical questions. Pause before starting to proclaim those questions. Modulate your tone of voice, if you can, to bring out the difference.

You can express the divine outrage by building your volume and sharpening your tone through the first sentence and the long second sentence, until you're practically shouting "I will send a curse upon you."

When introducing the reading, pronounce the author's name MAL uh kie, where the accented first syllable rhymes with "pal," and the third syllable sounds like "eye."

Second Reading, 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: Paul reminds the Thessalonians that, while he was among them, he was careful not to sponge off them even for his own livelihood. This puts him in contrast with other itinerant teachers of religions and philosophies in those days (and with some modern televangelists).

The Theological Background: This helps Paul make the case that what the Thessalonians received was not just human words but the word of God.

Proclaiming It: Notice the affection evident in the first few sentences. Read them with tenderness in your voice. Change your tone to something more triumphant than tender for the last paragraph. When you come to the climax in the last sentence, slow down:

A Theological Reflection: As a liturgical minister of God's word, you're carrying on Paul's mission, sharing Paul's goal (letting the word of God get to work in those who believe). This calls for zeal like Paul's, and love on your part for those to whom you speak.

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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. At the link above, Dan writes about our gospel of today and a first reading from Micha rather than Malachi, plus a slightly different selection from 1 Thessalonians 2.

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.
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.

(Caveat lector. As of September 29, 2011, 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).
This site posts its pages only a week before the given Sunday, and 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: October 8, 2011