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Third Sunday of Easter, Year C, April 14, 2013
Lectionary index # 48

Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

Who should announce these before the first and second readings, and before the gospel acclamation? They're not Scripture, nor homiletic, so they shouldn't be delivered from the ambo. They're a modest teaching. So let the presider say them from the chair. Let the lector turn toward the presider and listen.
Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.

Third Sunday of Easter, Year C, April 14, 2013
Before the first reading:

To help pagan converts understand their new church's history, Acts of the Apostles tells of Christian origins in Judaism, and how the earliest believers separated from the Jews.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

The Book of Revelation bolstered the faith of persecuted Christians by depicting God's final triumph in Jesus. This passage describes a scene in the court of heaven, where angels and patriarchs, and indeed all of creation, salute Jesus the Lamb.
Before the gospel acclamation:

In this post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to his closest disciples, details remind us of earlier gospel themes and events: the disciples' inability to do anything without Jesus, Peter's triple denial, Jesus as the provider of food, the necessity to follow Jesus even unto death.

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 5:27-32, 40-41 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Literary and Liturgical Settings: The Acts of Apostles tries to introduce new Gentile converts to the "family history" of the church they're joining, with highlights of the growth and struggles of the earliest Christian community after Pentecost. In the Sundays of this liturgical season, we get these elements: last Sunday, early growth in numbers, and miracles like those of Jesus; today, censure from the Jewish authorities; next week, 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.

Your Proclamation: Two features of this reading should stand out in your proclamation. The first is Peter's rendering of the gospel in response to his interrogators. Don't let this compelling summary of the Good News get lost. Imagine yourself in Peter's place. The high priest barks at you. You stare back in silence for a moment, then stand, never taking your eyes off his. You don't hate or fear this man, and you'd love for him to accept the gospel. You don't think that's likely, but you're going to be as convincing as you can be. You take a deep breath and begin:

Now that you've convinced the congregation, if not the high priest, of the truth of the gospel, note the other special feature of this story, and make sure the congregation hears how special it is. The apostles left the hearing "rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name." Note that the author of Acts doesn't think it necessary to expand on "the name." If you have the slightest doubt about whose name he means, read all the preceding chapters of Acts.

Second Reading, Revelation 5:11-14 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Literary and Historical Background: The Book of Revelation was written to bolster the faith of persecuted Christians. Its imaginative language is in some ways code meant to hide its meanings from the persecutors. In paragraphs prior to today's reading, the author has set this scene: In heaven, angels and similar creatures sing praises around God's throne. In God's hand is a sealed scroll. A voice has asked who is worthy to receive that scroll and open its seals. Then a slain Lamb appears, Jesus. Voices salute him as worthy to receive and open the scroll. Then they go further, saying "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing."

Your Proclamation: This dry summary does not do justice to the rich imagery in Revelation, chapters 4 & 5, which I recommend to the lector. Nor is this the place to dig into the theology of it all. It's enough to say, perhaps, that the spirit of your proclamation of this passage should be the Easter spirit. We've gathered to celebrate that Jesus has done something unprecedented and unexpected, and given us something undeserved. His accomplishment is great enough to earn the praise of the heavenly court, and of the earthly lector and congregation. The lector should sound like a member of that court. (Click here for Handel's rendering of this text in Messiah, performed in a sprightly tempo by the English Consort under Trevor Pinnock. The composer and performers capture the spirit of this text very well. Mutatis mutandis, let the lector sound as enthusiastic.)

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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.

Retired Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson prepares detailed notes for a study group.
Click here for his notes on Acts 9:1-6 [7-20], Psalm 30, Revelation 5:11-14, John 21:1-19.
Click here for Dan's notes on Acts 5:27-32, Psalm 118:14-29, Or Psalm 150, Revelation 1:4-8, John 20:19-31

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