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Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, November 17, 2013
Lectionary index # 159

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-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, November 17, 2013
Before the first reading:

In a difficult time for ancient Israel, after their exile in Babylon, some complained that the wicked seem to get away with everything, and that there's no benefit to obeying the Lord. God's messenger Malachi assures them that the evildoers will get their due on the terrible "Day of the Lord."
Between psalm and second reading:

Some early Christians expected the Day of the Lord, in the form of the return in glory of the risen Jesus, to occur immediately. So they dropped all their responsibilities and made nuisances of themselves in the community. Paul corrects them, using his own behavior as an example.
Before the gospel acclamation:

At the time of the writing of Luke's gospel, there was already some persecution of the followers of Jesus, and speculation about the end of the world. The evangelist applies some of Jesus' sayings to these concerns.

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First reading, Malachi 3:19-20a [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical and Literary Situation: After Judah returned from its exile in Babylon, the people and their leaders did not quickly rise to great levels of virtue. An anonymous prophet, who took the name Malachi (pronounce it MAL uh ki, with a short a in the first syllable, and long i in the third; it's Hebrew for "my messenger"), upbraided them for several abuses, such as religious impiety, cheating and marriage to pagans.

The author frequently uses this three-part structure: he gives an affirmation about God, then repeats an objection that the sinful people might make, then answers that objection.

Today's Verses in Detail:

Your Proclamation: As lector, you can do two things to convey the prophet's words authentically. One is to work up some indignation for your pronouncement of the burning of the wicked. Remember the context: You're not only criticizing the wicked, you're responding to the objection that it's useless to serve God, because the wicked seem to get away with everything. Well, nobody wants the wicked to prosper, not Malachi and not the slackers he's arguing with. Malachi wanted to show them that God really is going to go after the bad guys. Sound passionate about that. Your tone of voice should blaze like an oven.

The other thing you should do is change rhetorical gears abruptly, and speak the last sentence soothingly, since it's about God's comfort of those who do revere him.

Second Reading, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: Remember that the earliest Christians expected Jesus to come again in glory soon, bringing history to its climax, judging the living and the dead. Some among the Thessalonians responded to this prospect by abandoning their customary work. Saint Paul had never instructed them to do so, especially not by example.

Here he corrects them, appealing first to his own example. (At the end of liturgical year A, we heard Paul do the same thing in another letter to the same congregation. He seems to have wanted to distinguish his ministry and the value of his message from those of other itinerant preachers.)

Your Proclamation: Try to speak this as if you were Saint Paul speaking in person, not by letter. You're talking to people you love, but some of them have, as we say, gone off the deep end. Their spiritual leader needs to sound firm and convincing.

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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

(Caveat lector. As of September 30, 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
Dan covers a different selection from Malachi.
The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes Column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J., from 2001, on today's gospel. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.)

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: September 30, 2013