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Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, June 23, 2013 Lectionary index # 96

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.

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, June 23, 2013
Before the first reading:

Zechariah the prophet convicts Israel of sins and threatens that it will be occupied by enemies as punishment. He names a specific sin, the stabbing of an innocent man. He also predicts that the people can become purified from their sins.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

Some early Jewish converts to Christ insisted that pagan converts become practicing Jews as part of their accepting Christ. The Apostle Paul overturns such distinctions.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Jesus accepts the designation of Messiah, but orders his followers not to proclaim him so publicly. He has more to teach about the nature of his Messiaship.

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).

Hear a podcast (click here) of the U.S. edition of the readings.

First reading, Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: We resume liturgical year C's journey through Saint Luke's gospel. In today's passage, Luke 9:18-24, Peter answers Jesus famous question, "Who do you say that I am?" naming Jesus "The Messiah of God." Jesus' response is to predict his suffering, death and resurrection, and, within a few verses, to set his face resolutely for Jerusalem. Perhaps the first reading was chosen with those fateful events in mind.

The Historical Situation: The book known as Zechariah comes from two different sources. Scholars call chapters 9-14 Second Zechariah. It's later than most of what we read from the Hebrew Scriptures, from the period after Alexander the Great conquered Judah in 333 B.C.E. By this time, Judah had been a subject state for a very long time. From generation to generation, only the names of its overlords had changed. The prophet begins (Zechariah 9:1-8) by announcing that the Lord will invade the lands of Judah's foes (some near and some far) and liberate Judah. The same prophet also introduces a new variation on Israel's hope for a Messiah (meaning "Anointed One" in Hebrew, that is, a king). The Messiah is to be "meek, and riding on an ass" ...He shall banish the chariot, horse and warrior's bow. He shall proclaim peace to the nations. The prophet also borrows from Deutero-Isaiah the image of an anonymous person whose suffering brings healing and redemption to the people.

Proclaiming It: That's what's behind the few verses you are to proclaim. The offer of a spirit of grace and petition is hopeful. More stern is the prediction that the people will regretfully and mournfully view someone "whom they have pierced." But these people knew that griefs came as a consequence of their sins, and that life is always a mix of blessings and curses, of sin about which they were realistic, and of divine gifts like the "fountain to purify."

This mix of such contrasts in so few words makes for a difficult proclamation. Use contrasting tones of voice, then, for the hopeful and mournful elements. Here's a source of help in pronouncing Hadadrimmon and Megiddo.

Second Reading, Galatians 3:26-29 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical and Theological Background: The earliest Christians believed they were believing in the ultimate fulfillment of Judaism. It was a big shock when Gentiles, who had had little taste for things Jewish, joined them as believers in Jesus. It was none too comfortable for the Gentile Christians, either. Working out how to integrate these groups, long antagonists, was the early church's great controversy.

After Paul had made converts among Gentiles in Galatia, Christians of Jewish origin came there, questioned Paul's standing as an apostle, and told the Gentile Christians that the gospel required that they observe Jewish law and religious practice. The letter to the Galatians is Paul's vigorous (to put it mildly) corrective to this error:

Proclaiming It: All the above is absent from the text of what you are to proclaim, but it certainly undelies the meaning of it. When verse 26 says, "Through faith you are all children of God," it means faith as described above, contrasted against religion as legal observance. To be baptized is literally to be saturated in Christ, and to be clothed with Christ is to conform to him in one's external behavior, as well as internally. The distinction between Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) is abrogated, as we saw above; but it goes further: our unity in Christ abrogates distinctions between slaves and masters, men and women.

The "promise" in verse 29 is the original covenant God made with Abraham, ancestor of all the Jews. Because it's earlier than the covenant God made with Moses, when the law was given, the promise is superior to the law. So those who become Abraham's heirs according to the promise have a better "deal" than any who just keep the legal covenant given through Moses.

How should you sound when you proclaim this? Well, how do you feel when pondering these saving truths? Imagine how it would feel if Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutus could suddenly find themselves reconciled, or Iraq's Sunni and Shiite, America's blacks and whites, Christendom's Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. Think of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, of Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony there, the chorus singing "Freiheit!" in place of the poet's "Freude!" Those events, some hypothetical yet and one real, are pale reflections of the reconciliation you'll be reading about.

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
On an undated page with the heading "Proper 7," Dan covers Isaiah 65:1-9 as first reading and Luke 8:26-39 as the gospel, plus the same Galatians reading used in Catholic churches.
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 new liturgy site

Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector. As of May 7, 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).

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:
    , 6/18/98 n/a , 6/17/04 n/a , 6/17/10
  • 1998
  • 2004
  • 2010
  • 2013 (Scroll to the second column on the page.)
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 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: May 7, 2013