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Third Sunday of Advent, C, December 16, 2012 Lectionary index # 9

A digest for the congregation: Your parishioners would like to know some of the historical background behind today's readings. Your parish's liturgy or education commissions, with its clergy, may decide to satisfy that need with the brief introductions below. As lector, you may have to get the organizational ball rolling.

At the liturgy, 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. The liturgy committee, lector and presider should pay the charge described below.


Weekend of December 15 & 16, 2012, Third Sunday of Advent (Lectionary Cycle C).
Before the first reading:

Most of the short prophecy of Zephaniah is about gloom and doom for faithless, corrupt people and their leaders. But these encouraging words are for a faithful remnant among them. Note the interesting final image of the LORD singing joyfully because of the good people.
Between responsorial psalm and second reading:

When Saint Paul wrote to the good Christians at Philippi, he and they believed Jesus was soon to come again. Paul is confident that the Philippians are ready. He urges them to let their virtue be an example for others.
Before the gospel acclamation:

The preaching of John the Baptizer stirred up expectation that the Messiah had come. People ask John how to be ready to meet the Messiah. His answers are demanding and divisive.

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, Zephaniah 3:14-18a [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Larger Context: The book of Zephaniah (pronounced: zef uh NI uh) is four parts doom and violent gloom, and one part hope. Our reading today is from the hopeful finalé.

Zephaniah prophesied in Jerusalem during a time when many in that city were faithless and corrupt. Note how he rails against them in the first verses of Chapter 3:

On such as these, Zephaniah insists there will come The Day of the Lord, a time of terrible vengeance and the inspiration for some of John the Baptizer's threats remembered in today's gospel. But all are not lost. There are a few faithful ones whom the Lord will save. The prophet says later in the same chapter:

Your Proclamation: This is the reason for the positive, uplifting tone of today's reading, which concludes Zephania's book. Proclaim it as if you're addressing a faithful few in the midst of a godless multitude. That's what Zephaniah was doing.

Second Reading, Philippians 4:4-7 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: As we noted in last week's Lector's Notes, Paul was very fond of and confident in the Philippian Christians. Perhaps he had more confidence in them than they had in themselves, for he feels the need to bolster their courage in view of what is coming. They believed then that Jesus would return very soon ("The Lord is near.") in glory to judge the world. Paul was sure they'd be ready.

Proclaiming It: So proclaim this as if you want to inspire confidence in a good but worried people. You want them to have three responses to their situation:

The consequence will be to open them to the peace of God beyond all understanding. A most worthy goal.


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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.




Archived weekly column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137). Click here.
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 homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes Saint Louis University's excellent site for Sunday liturgy

Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector. As of November 1, 2012, 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: November 1, 2012