Click the image to see the artist's credit.
Ask your presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):
Thirty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time, November 10, 2019
Before the first reading:
Less than 200 years before Jesus, a pagan king tried to force Jews to break their ancestral laws, and persecuted them cruelly when they refused. In this description of their resistance, we hear an early reference to the hope that the dead will some day be raised.
After the psalm, before the second reading:
Saint Paul and the first readers of this early letter believed Jesus was soon to return in glory, bringing history to its climax. Paul is anxious about two goals: to keep the Thessalonians on track, and to get the gospel spread as widely as he can in the short time remaining.
Before the gospel acclamation:
The initial audience of Luke's gospel were pagans who knew little about the controversies within Judaism that Jesus faced. To explain to them how Jesus made enemies, the writer links stories of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his expulsion of money-changers from the temple, and some inflammatory teachings, including this passage about resurrection from the dead.
First Reading, 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Our Liturgical Setting:
We've been reading this year the gospel of Saint Luke, which is organized around Jesus' fateful journey to Jerusalem. We're nearing year's end, and the end of Luke's gospel, too. The setting of today's gospel, Luke 20:27-38
, is this: Jesus has entered Jerusalem to great acclaim, and expelled traders from the temple, (chapter 19
), had his authority questioned, and delivered teachings sure to infuriate the religious leaders (chapter 20
). Now he gives another controversial teaching, about resurrection from the dead.
The Historical Background: The Second Book of Macccabees is late, from the second century B.C.E. It's a story of invaders who tried to get the Jews to give up their faith, and of heroic resistance. In today's passage, the resisters express their hope of resurrection, and this hope helps them defy their persecutors. The conviction that the dead will be raised on the last day had not become widely accepted at this time, nor even by the time of Jesus (which is why it was controversial in Jesus' own teaching).
Your Proclamation: The whole story of the seven brothers and their mother is long. The editors of the Lectionary seem to have conceded to today's shortened attention span, and have cut out plenty of detail. This makes a cursory reading confusing. To make the story clear in your proclamation, add emphasis as follows:
- The whole context will become clear if you emphasize in the first long sentence that it was a king who was behind all the torturing, and his goal was to make the Jews violate God's law by forcing them to eat pork.
- Pause after the first sentence, before starting the sentence, "One of the brothers." Make this brother's speech sound defiant, and make him sound reverent for "the laws of our ancestors." That's what the controversy is all about.
- The third brother is to have his tongue and hands cut off. But the stripped down text doesn't say so directly. You have to make it clear by you say "He put out his tongue at once when told to do so, [pause] and bravely held out his hands, [pause] as he spoke ... 'It was from heaven that I received these ...'" Your congregation should not have to ask "received what? What's he talking about?" To test your interpretation, try reading this to someone in your household, someone not armed with a missallette, and ask if he or she can tell what gesture the brave young man is making.
- In the fourth brother's story, emphasize his hope of being raised up. Make it clear that he's threatening his persecutors when he tells them that for them there will be no resurrection.
Second Reading, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3
The Historical Background:
In last Sunday's introduction to 2 Thessalonians
, we saw that some believed that the day of the Lord (Jesus' coming again in glory) had already happened. That was not so, but the belief that it was just around the corner was common among the Thessalonian Christians. So the author is anxious about two things:
- Keeping the Thessalonian Christians from getting off the track in their excitement about the end, and
- Getting the word of God spread as far as possible while there is still time, in spite of obstacles.
In the first long sentence (which you should read slowly because it's so long), emphasize "encourage your hearts and strengthen them."
In the second long sentence (slowly again) emphasize "the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified."
Then "that what we instruct you, you are doing and will continue to do."
Links to other smart commentaries on this week's readings
- Karban, 1998,
- Karban, 2001,
- Karban, 2004,
- Karban, 2007,
- Karban, 2010,
- Karban, 2013,
- Karban, 2016,
- Karban, current,
- Saint Louis University,
- Fuller at S.L.U.,
- Pilch at S.L.U.,
- Nelson (archived at lectorprep.org),
- The Text This Week
Credit for the picture at the top:
A Sunrise on Kalindi Mountain, Himalayas, Uttarakhand, northern India. The photographer is Sharada Prasad, CS, from Berkeley, India. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Start here for more of the photographer's work.
This page updated September 14, 2019