Ask your presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):

Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, October 15, 2017

Before the first reading:

A banquet of food so good it's indescribable, an end to death, and a welcome, on the Jews' most exclusvie site, for all the earth's people. These are the surprises God is preparing, in this prophet's vision.

After the psalm, before the second reading:

From Paul's farewell to a much-loved congregation, we'll hear a summary of what Christ has let him accomplish, and of what he wishes for his friends.

Before the gospel acclamation:

Saint Matthew continues to explore the rejection of Jesus by most Jews, on behalf of Jews who had accepted him.

First Reading, Isaiah 25:6-10a

Our Liturgical Setting: This year, we've been reading from Saint Matthew's gospel. Its original audience were mostly Jewish Christians dealing with three hard issues:

Lately our readings from Matthew have dealt with the second issue, trying to explain how God was so generous to late-comers, and how the originally chosen ones made themselves unworthy. Today's gospel makes that point with a parable about a feast to which the invited refuse to come.

Now all that just explains why the editors of the Lectionary want us to hear today's passage from Isaiah. It, too, is about a banquet.

The Theological Background: But Isaiah wasn't just saying this to set us up to hear a particular gospel paragraph. He expresses a grand prophetic vision here. Notice the universal scope of what he predicts: a feast for all people, doing away with death for all people, wiping away tears from every face, removing the reproach from the whole earth. It took a courageous prophet to speak of a God whose care extended beyond a single people, when that single people prided itself on its elect status. That, more than its reference to a banquet, makes this an important passage.

Proclaiming It: Of course, emphasize the words that tell the scope of God's care: all, every, whole.

Second Reading, Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20

The Historical Situation: Paul had received generous financial support from the Christians at Philippi, on several occasions; these sentences come from his "thank you" note to them. Paul is also very fond of the Philippians, and has high expectations of them as followers of Christ. This passage has a valedictory character, too, because Paul may have written while facing death in prision.

Proclaiming It: In proclaiming this aloud, be sure you accentuate the contrasts between the various levels of comfort and need that Paul recalls.

Unless the preachers in your congregation have been concentrating on the recent series of readings from Philippians, the typical listener might let this go in one ear and out the other. But there's a one-liner within these verses that, if you accent it enough, might be just what someone needs to hear this Sunday. It's this:

I can do all things in him [Christ] who strengthens me.

Try not to let this gem get lost.

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Links to other smart commentaries on this week's readings

Credit for the picture at the top:

Russian Orthodox Icon of the Wedding Feast and the Underdressed Guest, or so it is called, more or less, on several websites that give no other attribution.

Lector's Notes should be easily readable on any device, including small-screen ones like cell phones and tablets. This is among the first of a few hundred pages to be converted to a responsive format (responsive to the kind of screen you are using). So when you're not serving as lector, and you arrive at church and mute your cell phone, you can brief yourself on the readings you're about to hear. Format conversion is a work-in-progress and will be so until maybe April of 2018.

This page updated August 2, 2017