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Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners

The Word This Week

We are going to be spending a lot of time with Saint Matthew’s Gospel this year - reading it over the next twenty-four weeks. So it is suitable that today we hear about the call of Saint Matthew. The Gospel gives us the key to today’s ‘theme’: ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice’. The Lord asks his followers to consider the way in which the external observation of the Law dominates over its true purpose - a life of love and mercy. The legislation regarding sacrifice in Israel was remarkably complex, and there was an ever-present danger (as there is today) that the rites were seen as some kind of ‘magic’ which guaranteed a favourable result, whatever the disposition of the participants. We must all remember that it is the heart that counts: without a willing heart, all sacrifice and ritual is empty.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Hosea 6:3-6

Remember what a prophet is: someone who points out what the world is really about, who gives the sometimes unwelcome message. Hosea is a perfect example: throughout the Book of Hosea we find the prophet pronouncing the word of God to his people - a word of tenderness and love. Yes, the people have made mistakes, and God has upbraided them, but only so that they may understand the need to live in love. The first paragraph is the voice of the prophet himself, encouraging the people to recognise that ‘the Lord will come’; enjoy the beautiful imagery: God will not come in angry clouds or special effects, but gently, ‘like spring rains watering the earth’. The second paragraph is the voice of the Lord: this is not a thunderous denunciation, but the weary words of a patient parent, who has given the children all the chances they need. All God wants is love and knowledge of God - but what the people give are sacrifices and holocausts (a type of sacrifice where the offering was completely burnt). They go through the outward show, but then turn round to live desperate lives according to their own whims. Read this passage very slowly and gently (even the words ‘torn’ and ‘slaughtered’), and emphasise the last two lines, which will lead us to the Gospel.


Second Reading: Romans 4:18-25

The key word throughout this reading is ‘faith’: if we trust in God completely, what will happen? We will be ‘justified’, as Abraham was, who put all his faith in God. This reading needs very careful preparation: the first sentence is a perfect example: underline ‘Abraham’ and ‘he hoped and he believed’; notice that the sentence doesn’t say ‘doing so he became the father’ but ‘doing so he did become the father...’ - it is emphatic. Emphasise the word ‘faith’ whenever it appears. Note the last sentence, which links the Abraham story with us: we, like Abraham will be justified by our faith - only what we believe in is the one ‘who raised Jesus from the dead’.


 Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.