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Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, C, February 14, 2010 Lectionary index # 78C

A digest 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.

February 14, 2010, Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Before the first reading:

Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem, six centuries before Jesus, trying to persuade leaders and people to remain faithful. This short, blunt list of good and bad behaviors prepares us to hear Jesus' list in today's gospel
Between psalm and second reading:

The early church in Corinth was filled with many controversies. Last week we learned that some challenged Paul's authority as an apostle. Today we learn that some did not believe that we shall rise from the dead. This is Paul's response.
Before the gospel acclamation:

This is Jesus' list of blessings first, then curses. Unlike Jeremiah, he predicts reversals in the fortunes of those now apparently blessed and of those now apparently cursed.

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, Jeremiah 17:5-8 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: Today's gospel, Luke 6:17, 20-26, contains a list of beatitudes as well as a list of curses. The first reading is Jeremiah's short list: one curse and one beatitude, in great detail.

The Historical Background: Jeremiah lived for about 70 years, around 600 years before Jesus. Most of his work was in Judah's capital Jerusalem, where he struggled to keep the people and the leaders faithful to God in an atmosphere of political intrigue and deceit. He was blunt and outspoken, and he suffered at the hands of the powerful for it. His simple "either or" message int today's reading is as direct as a prophet can get.

The "book" we know now as Jeremiah's isn't a linear narrative like many modern works. It's a collection of collections of his oracles and sayings, and the context in which Jeremiah delivered them is not always clear. It's also true that other sages of that day used this form: a list of wicked behaviors and/or a list of good ones. This list is just a very short one.

Your Proclamation: It's a simple message deserving a straightforward proclamation. Just be sure your hearers can hear the difference between the curse and the blessing. So choose a low tone of voice to proclaim the curse, pause before sentence beginning "Blessed is the one...", and adopt a higher tone to finish the blessing.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: As last Sunday's reading and notes showed, some Christians at Corinth did not believe in the prospect of resurrection of the dead. Here Paul argues vigorously with them. Your proclamation should be vigorous, too.

Proclaiming it Rhythmically: In music, we use the word staccato to describe short, clipped notes, played rapidly with distinct breaks between them, like the Mexican Hat Dance (when they play it at the baseball park, you clap twice at the end of each phrase. Ah, now you remember.) Well, the first few clauses of this reading call for a staccato delivery.

Then comes the key sentence. Its structure is a bit challenging, so your listeners need some help to absorb it. Pause and slow down dramatically for this:

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.

In the last sentence emphasize has in the phrase "now Christ has been raised from the dead."

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, USA.

Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here.

Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
Dan's undated page has the heading "Epiphany 6."

Archived weekly column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137)

The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes Essays on today's readings from six highly qualified authors, courtesy of Saint Louis University's Center for Liturgy.

(Caveat lector. As of January 22, 2010, 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).

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: January 22, 2010