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Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, C, February 18, 2007

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 17 & 18, 2007, Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Before the first reading:

Saul was Israel's first king, and the Israelite David, hero of Saul's war against the Philistines, became Saul's rival. This incident occurs during Saul's pursuit of David. David calls Saul "the Lord's anointed," because anointing was the ceremony that had made Saul king.
Between psalm and second reading:

After Paul's discussion of the resurrection, that we heard last week, Paul does a long discussion of the manner of the resurrection, and the differences between earthly and spiritual bodies. Now he turns to the differences between Adam, the first man, and Christ whom he calls the last man, and how we are like each.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Jesus teaches his followers a morality more demanding than the one prevailing in his day.

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, 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23

Our Liturgical Setting: Today's gospel, Luke 6:27-38, gives us Jesus' revolutionary moral teaching about human relationships. He tells us not to calculate what we have to gain in every human encounter, but what we have to give. He orders us to go so far as to love our enemies, and to be as merciful as God our Father is merciful. The first reading gives us a vivid example of forbearance and mercy from the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Historical Background: The ancient Israelites were governed first by Moses, then by a long line of judges. They maintained their differences from their pagan neighbors in several ways, principally by avoiding the institution of kingship. But envy of their neighbors overcame this principled stance, and the Israelites finally prevailed on their last Judge, Samuel, to anoint a king for them. See 1 Samuel:8. The king was Saul. In Saul's army, the youth David won the famous victory over Goliath, and won thereby the admiration of the people and the envy of king Saul. Read the dramatic story at length in 1 Samuel, chapters 9-31. Deep into that story, David, who by now has a considerable following and is in open rebellion against Saul, has a chance to kill Saul. But he doesn't do it, out of respect for the anointing Saul has received as king.

Your Proclamation: Briefly set this scene for your hearers, if the presider has not already done so, by reading that leftmost yellow box, above.

Then start the ritual introduction, "A reading from the First Book of Samuel." The scene is still going to be hard for your hearers to visualize, so help them by emphasizing, in the second sentence, the words by night and Saul lying asleep. Say Abishai's words in a whisper. Then emphasize the word anointed in David's reply.

In the last paragraph, imitate David's taunting shout, and emphasize again his reverence for the anointed of the Lord.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

The Theological Background: In our week-by-week exploration through 1 Corinthians, we're still reading Saint Paul's doctrine of the resurrection. Here he returns to the contrasts between Christ, "the last Adam," and the original Adam. (For more on this contrast, see all of 1 Corinthians 15, or at least verses 20-28, lines which come between last Sunday's selection and today's.)

After last week's passage about the resurrection, Paul addresses the questions, "How are dead people raised, and what sort of body do they have when they come?" (1 Cor 15:35, translation of The New Jerusalem Bible. This leads him to distinguish among kinds of flesh, the kinds of "splendour" that they enjoy, and the "natural body" versus the "spiritual body." Naming these contrasts lets him move into the one addressed in today's passage, the differences between Adam and Christ (the last Adam), and what we inherit from each.

Your Proclamation: As lector, your responsibility is to be sure the assembly hears these contrasts clearly. Your hearers should know they take something from each Adam, and should know the difference. You can help by reading a little more slowly, and with a little more contrast in your voice, than seems "natural."

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.

And here's a link to his twenty-five most recent columns.

Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
Dan's undated page has the heading "Epiphany 7." His church's first reading is Genesis 45:3-11, another, more touching story of forbearance.

A commentary on today's first reading, psalm and gospel by Father Frank Cleary, S.J., courtesy of the Saint Louis Review.

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.

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: Sat Feb 3 16:21:45 CST 2007