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Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C,
October 13, 2013
Lectionary index # 144

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.

Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, October 13, 2013
Before the first reading:

Naaman was army commander of a tribe that was a rival of Israel. He had leprosy, and by a strange series of events, he came to Israel's prophet Elisha for a cure.
Between psalm and second reading:

The senior apostle Paul writes from prison to the junior church leader Timothy. By way of encouraging Timothy, Paul quotes an early Christian hymn.
Before the gospel acclamation:

Jesus continues to make his way to Jerusalem, where death and resurrection await him. He praises the faith of someone not a member of the fold.

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).

These are the first Lector's Notes written in 2001 after the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

First reading, 2 Kings 5:14-17 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Liturgical Context, The Whole Literary Context: Today's gospel, Luke 17:11-19, shows Jesus marveling again at the faith displayed by non-believers, compared to the faith shown by Jesus' own people. The first reading, if an assembly has the good fortune to hear it in context, is a perfect introduction to the gospel. Let the lector start by both reading the gospel and mastering the first reading's context, studying all of The Second Book of Kings, chapter 5. I urge the lector to persuade the presider that you should proclaim, at Sunday mass, verses 1 through 19 of chapter five, and not just begin at the end. (The superficial similarities between first reading and gospel are the references to the curing of leprosy and to gratitude. But the subtler and more important issues in both readings are where is the real God, where is real faith to be found, and what is the scope of God's care.)

The Theological Background: Here's why Naaman ("NAY mun" or "NAY uh mun") wanted two mule-loads of earth from the territory of the prophet Elisha ("ell LISH uh", not to be confused with his mentor Elijah). Most people at this time had a crude, physical, territorial notion of divinity. It was just understood that one god governed the land of Aram, and another god held sway over the territory of Israel, and so on. If you wanted to worship the god of Israel, you had to go to that god's turf. But if you could take some of Israel's soil with you, you could dump it on the ground anywhere, stand on it, and worship the god of Israel from there.

Your Proclamation: Tell this vivid story like you would tell any story full of conflicts, mistrust, pathos, self-righteousness, conversion of heart, and surprise. Exaggerate the pettiness of the king of Israel, who suspects the king of Aram of picking a fight. Do the same for Naaman, when makes a chauvinistic comparison of the Jordan to the rivers of his homeland. Make Elisha sound supremely confident.

Second Reading, 2 Timothy 2:8-13 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical and Literary Considerations: In the church at Ephesus, Timothy held an office that would evolve into that of a bishop. Paul, senior apostle now in prison, loved his young friend of long standing and one-time missionary companion. Today's passage is part of Paul's encouragement to Timothy. It's not a structured theological treatise, but more a collection of pithy sayings designed to bolster Timothy. Note that Paul is not too modest to cite his own experiences if that's what the disciple needs to know.

The Lector's Proclamation: Shout triumphantly Paul's defiant statement: "The word of God is not chained." Emphasize, too, Paul's reason for enduring all this, "so that they [we] too may attain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory."

Note the hymnic structure of the last eight clauses. This was probably a hymn well known in Timothy's church. While I'm not advocating that you chant it from the lectern Sunday, do respect its meter. Perhaps you remember the setting of this by Lucien Deiss, from the 1960's or so. Deiss used these as some of the verses for "Keep in Mind." Even if you don't remember that, if you are at all musical, try to imagine how this would sound set to music. Then let that mental music control the cadence, contrasts, pauses and emphases in your proclamation.

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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.

Saint Louis University's excellent new liturgy site

Most welcome here are Reginald Fuller's commentaries.

(Caveat lector. As of August 31, 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).

Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes Archived weekly column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.) (This 2001 column treats today's first reading and gospel.)

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: August 31, 2013