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Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C, April 21, 2013
Lectionary index # 51

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.

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.

Fourth Sunday of Easter, year C, April 21, 2013
Before the first reading:

One of the purposes of the book of Acts was to explain to Gentile converts how their new religion started within Judaism, but soon reached beyond its roots to embrace strangers. This passage gives details about the human passions and divine providence behind that change.
Between psalm and second reading:

The Revelation of John was written to help persecuted Christians to be resolute. A public document, its symbolic language is meant to seem vague and harmless to the persecutors, but full of encouragement to the believers.
Before the gospel acclamation:

In a few short sentences, Jesus describes our relationship to him and his relationship to his Father. We're united with Jesus because we heed his word, as he is united with the Father because he does the Father's will.

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 13:14, 43-52 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Setting: One of the most pressing questions in the early church was what to make of the break between Judaism and Christianity. The earliest Christians had seen Jesus as the fulfillment of their own ancient Jewish hopes. Why, then, were he and they rejected by mainstream Judaism? One could argue that Christians' openness to the Gentiles was both cause and effect of their rupture with Judaism. That's strongly suggested by today's first reading. One of the purposes of Acts is to explain this to Gentile converts, and to explain to them the Jewish background of their new religion.

Proclaiming It: To proclaim it properly, the lector should make the dichotomy clear, using the voice to accent the contrasts between "you" (the Jews whom Paul addresses) and "the Gentiles" to whom Paul and Barnabas are turning. Anyone hearing you read this aloud should quickly grasp what Paul is doing: telling the Jews forcefully how they've blown their chance, and that he's taking the good news elsewhere. (Compare Paul's speech to last week's speech by Peter to the Jerusalem Sanhedrin. Both deserve equally dramatic oral presentation.)

Other aspects of the Jewish/Christian question come up in Lectionary selections. See Lector's Notes on the first reading for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B, and for the second reading on the Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A.

Second Reading, Revelation 7:9, 14-17 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: Every year on this Sunday, we read a different paragraph from the gospel of John, chapter 10, each about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. This year, the second reading depicts Jesus as both Lamb and shepherd. In the latter role, he protects and refreshes his flock, who suffer persecution (see the last paragraph of today's first reading).

The Historical Background: Remember that the book of Revelation was written for the encouragement of persecuted Christians. If you were in its original audience, you'd be thinking, "This saintly mystic named John is sharing with me a vision about the future I'll enjoy if I remain faithful during this persecution. Even John was puzzled by what he saw, so in his vision he gets briefed by the elders already in heaven. They told him we'll get to be in heaven, with thousands of other faithful people, seeing God on His throne, singing praises, never suffering again. In baptism, we are already washed in the blood of the Lamb."

Proclaiming It: Given this background, the lector should try to recreate this experience for today's listening congregation. So you can't recite this as if it were the same kind of literature as the first reading. It's not just history to be read in a matter-of-fact tone. You have to make it sound like the fantastic vision that it is.

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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 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30 (same second reading and gospel passages as in the Catholic lectionary today).

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. Essays by six highly qualified scripture scholars, spiritual writers, historians, all on this Sunday's readings.

(Caveat lector. As of April 5, 2010, 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