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Second Sunday of Easter, Year C, April 7, 2013
Lectionary index # 45

Twenty-second digests of each reading 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.

Second Sunday of Easter, Year C, April 17, 2013
Before the first reading:

The Acts of the Apostles tries to explain to Gentile converts the Jewish origins of Christianity. One of its themes is how the first Christians imitated Jesus. Here the apostles work cures and draw large crowds, including some who were hesitant to commit, as did Jesus.
Between psalm and second reading:

The Book of Revelation was written to bolster the perseverance of persecuted Christians, and to settle some doctrinal disputes. It's told in the form of a vision. Much of the language is symbolic, to hide its meanings from the persecutors.
Before the gospel acclamation:

One of John's purposes in writing his gospel is to provoke a firm decision for Christ among early converts who were backsliding. Today's passage tells about a famous backslider, but also offers the fulness of life to others who don't have his privileged vision.

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, Acts 5:12-16 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Literary and Liturgical Settings: As a book, The Acts of Apostles tells the story of the growth and struggles of the earliest Christian community after Pentecost. In the Sundays of this liturgical season, we get these highlights: today early growth in numbers, and miracles like those of Jesus; next week, censure from the Jewish authorities; then the first Gentile converts; on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, travels with Paul; then a pivotal dispute within the church about the obligation to keep the law of Moses; then the first martyrdom of a Christian; then, in calendarical if not chronological order, Pentecost.

Proclaiming It: If you don't remember the sequence of the Acts drama, at least in its early chapters, put this reading into context for yourself by reading Acts, from at least the end of Peter's Pentecost speech at the link above, up to today's passage in chapter 5. This passage is a straightforward summary, and an unrushed, matter-of-fact proclamation by the lector will be just right. The reason many were unwilling to join the Christians meeting in Solomon's Portico is that the Jewish religious tribunal known as the Sanhedrin had prohibited the apostles from speaking in Jesus' name (see Acts 4). In spite of the ban, many still join.

Also noteworthy here is how the apostles' careers mirror so closely Jesus' own experiences as a healer and exorcist, and as one who drew a following of the curious and the admiring.

Second Reading, Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Literary Background and our Liturgical Setting: Early in the season dedicated to celebrating and pondering Jesus' resurrection, a first-generation Christian mystic invites us to plumb his insight into mystery of the Risen One. The author wants to impress on us the authority behind what he is handing on.

When he says he shares with his audience the distress, kingdom and endurance, he means he, too, acknowledges the kingship of Christ, is also worried about persecution, and relies on the same spiritual source of fortitude as they.

His writing is highly symbolic. Scholars have long proposed that the visions represent ideas in coded language, clear to his audience but opaque to their persecutors, so a safe way to say encouraging words, and to read them.

Proclaiming It: The assembly listening to your proclamation will need some help picturing this episode in their minds. So read slowly, pausing briefly between images. You might practice this reading at home, before someone who is not armed with a missallette. If he or she tells you "OK, I get the picture," and can verbalize it back to you, then you know you're reading it properly.

Notice how the writer is honest about what he doesn't know. He has to turn to see who spoke to him. He cannot identify the one he sees, but only describe his appearance. That appearance makes the writer faint. Think how you would tell that story, communicating with your tone of voice the wonder you experienced.

Give special solemnity to the words of Jesus. Emphasize his expression, "Once I was dead, but now I am alive for ever and ever," because that's what ties this reading to the Easter season.

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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.

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
Saint Louis University's excellent Sunday liturgy-preparation site

(Caveat lector. As of February 11, 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).

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: February 11, 2013