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Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, July 29, 2012 (Lectionary index # 110B)

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.

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, July 29, 2012
Before the first reading:

The Books of Kings were meant to keep Israel faithful, using lessons from history. The books describe the misfortunes of their unfaithful kings, and the good fortunes of their faithful kings. Elisha is a faithful prophet who criticized unfaithful kings. Several miracles bolster Elisha's credentials.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

The Letter to the Ephesians is about God's long-secret plan, now revealed, to reconcile Jews and Gentiles. These ancient enemies have been united in Christ. Today's passage instructs a Gentile Christian community on some finer points of living together.
Before the gospel acclamation:

In prior weeks, we've been reading Saint Mark's gospel, up to the miracle of the loaves and fishes. We switch today to Saint John's more detailed version of that story. In the next four Sunday's we'll here from John Jesus' whole teaching about the bread of life.

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, 2 Kings 4:42-44 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

Our Liturgical Setting: This year, Sunday by Sunday, we've been reading Saint Mark's gospel. Last Sunday we came to the brink of the point where Jesus, after teaching a crowd of thousands at great length, miraculously feeds them, multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread. But the lectionary switches to the account of this event in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, with its amplified teaching about the bread of life. (We'll spend five Sundays in this single chapter; the lectionary reserves readings from Saint John's gospel for the most solemn parts of Christmas, Lent and Eastertide annually, and this stretch of ordinary time every third year.) The first reading prepares us for the gospel today by describing a similar miraculous feeding of many from a few loaves.

The Historical Situation and Theological Background: The Books of Kings were written well after the events they describe by an author who had this intent: His main interest is in keeping his audience faithful to the Lord. So he tells the story of each king with emphasis on how the king was or was not faithful. "The faithful prosper; the unfaithful pay for their defections," as the Introduction to 1 Kings in The New American Bible explains. Unlike the hot and cold kings, Elisha, "the man of God," is reliably faithful. Several miracle stories in chapters 4, 5 and 6 of 2 Kings bolster his reputation.

Proclaiming It: Just tell it like the straightforward story that it is. The name of the man of God is pronounced "eh LISH uh" with a short e sound in the first syllable and short i sound in the second. He should not be confused with Elijah ("ee LYE juh"), his mentor, who disappeared two chapters earlier. The fellow with the few loaves came from Baal-shalishah, pronounced "BAH ahl shah LEE shah." Actually, it matters not how you pronounce the town's name; just don't improvise when you're actually proclaiming this. To the congregation, you should sound like you know what you're talking about, and that you believe what you're doing is important enough to prepare for.

Second Reading, Ephesians 4:1-6 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: On the Fifteenth Sunday and Sixteenth Sunday of this season, we established the new unity of God's once separated peoples, the Jews and the Gentiles (the latter including the Ephesian addressees of this letter). Here Paul (writing from prison) encourages them to live out the consequences of their unification. We might paraphrase thus: "You have only one religion, so live like one family."

Proclaiming It: Let your voice portray the high emotion in Paul's pleading. Remember how you've felt when two people you love show their bitterness toward each other. Paul's efforts to awaken the Ephesians to their unity in Christ were part of the mission that put him in prison. He doesn't want them to waste the blessing for which he has put himself at such risk.

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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."
Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group cover our first reading and gospel. To see Dan's treatment of our second reading, click here for his page for next Sunday.

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.
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 site for Sunday liturgy
Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector. As of June 7, 2012, 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: June 7, 2012