The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (B)
The Word This Week
Notes for Readers (Year A Readings)
First Reading: Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6.12-14.
Here we have examples of just behaviour - the behaviour that makes a family work. If you look at the reading, you see that at least for the first half, the words 'father' or 'mother' appear on almost every line. So here we think about the relationship between children and parents. Throughout this reading, take care to emphasise the things that children should do, and separate this slightly from the blessing that is associated with it. So line 3 could be read thus: "Whoever respects his father ... is atoning for his sins." and the same for the other elements of the list. Remember it is a list, and with any list of virtues or things, you need to give the congregation time to assimilate the items on the list. So take your time with this reading, being sure to emphasise the actions that bring blessings. It might be worth a slight change of tone for the last section, addressed directly to the son. A greater gentleness, tinged with understanding of the difficulty of the task, will engage the attention of the listener.
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21.
Here we turn to general rules for the whole family to observe (indeed for the whole community to observe). Paul is almost pleading as he writes - this way of living, which he is so convinced by, is worth listening to. You may wish to adopt a similar tone - gathering the attention of the congregation, and almost persuading them of the benefits of life like this (without going over the top, of course.) Be aware again of the list that Paul gives, and insert suitable pauses to help the understanding of the listener. Be careful of the middle paragraph: it is less obvious than the other two, and you could lose the attention of the congregation: use the emphatic words (like "richness, gratitude, inspired, never") to hold this passage with the rest - the direct appeal to the Christian community. A general rule we have mentioned before is that often in these readings you are directly addressing the congregation: notice that the very first word of the reading is You. This is a real you, talking to those sitting in front of you this Sunday morning.