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

Thirty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time, November 6, 2016

Before the first reading:

Less than 200 years before Jesus, a pagan king tried to force Jews to break their ancestral laws, and persecuted them cruelly when they refused. In this description of their resistance, we hear an early reference to the hope that the dead will some day be raised.

After the psalm, before the second reading:

Saint Paul and the first readers of this early letter believed Jesus was soon to return in glory, bringing history to its climax. Paul is anxious about two goals: to keep the Thessalonians on track, and to get the gospel spread as widely as he can in the short time remaining.

Before the gospel acclamation:

The initial audience of Luke's gospel were pagans who knew little about the controversies within Judaism that Jesus faced. To explain to them how Jesus made enemies, the writer links stories of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his expulsion of money-changers from the temple, and some inflammatory teachings, including this passage about resurrection from the dead.

First Reading, 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14

Our Liturgical Setting: We've been reading this year the gospel of Saint Luke, which is organized around Jesus' fateful journey to Jerusalem. We're nearing year's end, and the end of Luke's gospel, too. The setting of today's gospel, Luke 20:27-38, is this: Jesus has entered Jerusalem to great acclaim, and expelled traders from the temple, (chapter 19), had his authority questioned, and delivered teachings sure to infuriate the religious leaders (chapter 20). Now he gives another controversial teaching, about resurrection from the dead.

The Historical Background: The Second Book of Macccabees is late, from the second century B.C.E. It's a story of invaders who tried to get the Jews to give up their faith, and of heroic resistance. In today's passage, the resisters express their hope of resurrection, and this hope helps them defy their persecutors. The conviction that the dead will be raised on the last day had not become widely accepted at this time, nor even by the time of Jesus (which is why it was controversial in Jesus' own teaching).

Your Proclamation: The whole story of the seven brothers and their mother is long. The editors of the Lectionary seem to have conceded to today's shortened attention span, and have cut out plenty of detail. This makes a cursory reading confusing. To make the story clear in your proclamation, add emphasis as follows:

Second Reading, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3

The Historical Background: In last Sunday's introduction to 2 Thessalonians, we saw that some believed that the day of the Lord (Jesus' coming again in glory) had already happened. That was not so, but the belief that it was just around the corner was common among the Thessalonian Christians. So the author is anxious about two things: Proclaiming It: In the first long sentence (which you should read slowly because it's so long), emphasize "encourage your hearts and strengthen them."

In the second long sentence (slowly again) emphasize "the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified."

Then "that what we instruct you, you are doing and will continue to do."

 
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Links to other smart commentaries on this week's readings

Credit for the picture at the top:

A Sunrise on Kalindi Mountain, Himalayas, Uttarakhand, northern India. The photographer is Sharada Prasad, CS, from Berkeley, India. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Start here for more of the photographer's work.

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 October 17, 2016