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Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, January 15, 2012
Lectionary index # 65

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.


Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, January 15, 2012
Before the first reading:

A senior Hebrew priest and his young apprentice have an encounter with God. Even the senior takes a while to understand. The apprentice will become a leader of the nation.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Ancient Corinth was both a bawdy seaport and a sophisticated center of religious and philosophical debate. To new Christian converts in Corinth, Paul describes a new morality and new reasons for observing it.
Before the gospel acclamation:

The Evangelist John portrays the Baptist John turning over his disciples to Jesus. Jesus has extraordinary insight into the hearts of his new followers.

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, 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: This book begins a long narrative of what we might call ancient Israel's middle history. Their land is settled and the age of the Exodus is over. Moses, Aaron, and Joshua are gone. The period of rule by Judges had begun at about 1000 BCE. In the first chapter of this book, Samuel is born to a long-barren couple by divine intervention. They dedicated him to God's service in the temple at Shiloh (not the later grand temple to be built by Solomon on Mount Zion in Jerusalem). Young Samuel is an apprentice to the priest Eli.

Proclaiming It: While preparing your proclamation, try telling this story in your own words. Tell it to yourself or someone in your home. You're likely to use far more words than the text itself. Here's the beginning of my version, as compactly as I can write it:

Clear enough? Yes, but you don't have the luxury of rewriting the Bible. You don't have a summary to recite but a terse narrative. The characters are not introduced by description, age or occupation (well, the occupation of the Lord goes without saying). The context is a "temple," but the author just assumes you know what the "ark of God" is (like he assumes you've read chapters 1 and 2, also). This all threatens to be even less clear to contemporary worshipers listening to the story for the first time in at least three years.

So how will you help them out? As always, slow down. Use pauses and different tones of voice to distinguish the three speakers. When you finish the first, "You called me," your listeners should realize that Samuel has mistaken the identity of the one who called him. Put some drama in the speaker's words. The second and third time he runs to Eli, Samuel should sound confused if not exasperated.

Listeners are used to things happening in threes, after which they expect a resolution. So put a significant pause after the third "You called me." Let the tension build for a moment before you say, with relief and understanding in your voice, "Then Eli understood ..."

Also emphasize that the Lord "revealed his presence" in his last call of Samuel.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: Suddenly we find ourselves again in the middle of one of Saint Paul's letters to the Corinthians. We saw earlier chapters of this epistle early last year, too. The needs of the Christian community at Corinth were many and complex. So Paul's letters to them are long and complex, and the Lectionary cites them often. (So do Lector's Notes.) Corinth was both a bawdy seaport and a center of intellectual ferment. One would find there all the vices and and all the philosophical posturings that one would expect. It was a difficult place to preach a new doctrine and new morality. Paul had dared to preach both, provoking no little controversy.

The Literary and Liturgical Situation: The editors of the Lectionary have bowdlerized this passage. In the great scheme of things, that may be for the best, although it won't help make worshipers into smarter readers of God's word. The lector, however, should know the context, at least all of 1 Corinthians 6. And I recommend even more strongly than usual Pastor Dan Nelson's exposition of the chapter.

Proclaiming It: The verses left for you to proclaim offer a compelling idea three times in two ways. That's the notion that our bodies are "for the Lord." The three phrases are:

As lector, I would emphasize those sentences and hope the homilist in my assembly tackles the job of exposing Saint Paul's teaching more fully.
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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."
Archived weekly column of the late Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.) From the site of the Saint Louis Review.


Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
Excellent on 1 Corinthians, as you would expect. Covers John 1:43-51, the gospel paragraph following the one in the Roman Catholic Lectionary today.

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 Sunday liturgy site

(Caveat lector. As of December 8, 2011, 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).

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Last modified: December 8, 2011