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Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

He summoned his twelve disciples, and sent them out

The Word This Week

The people of Israel were chosen by God, to be his own people. This Moses proclaims in the first reading. And having chosen a people, God does not abandon them: they may be like sheep without a shepherd, but God sends them the Good Shepherd, who feels sorry for them, and entrusts his disciples with the task of giving them new heart. The same God has chosen us, and gives us the same Shepherd. But we must be careful to take to ourselves the call of Jesus: we must pray for labourers to give new heart to the lost sheep of our society. We must also remember our own responsibility - as a kingdom of priests and a consecrated nation those of us in the Church have a mission to fulfil: to live out the Covenant, and truly to be a consecrated nation.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Exodus 19:2-6

We jump into the middle of a story - which can be difficult for the reader: you must understand the context of the journey of the Israelites, so that when you proclaim the first sentence people can get the idea that we are in the middle of a journey and a story. Underline ‘set out again’, ‘Sinai’, ‘pitched camp’. Then we get to the core of the passage: the words of God to Moses. Pause after ‘declare this to the sons of Israel:’, so that a sense of expectancy is built up - this is a formal message. There is both a power and a tenderness in the words of God, which you somehow must convey; stress ‘my very own’. Think, before you proclaim this, about what it meant to the people to receive the words Moses brought  - how glad they would feel to be God’s ‘very own’. Then remember that these words speak to each of us, as God’s people, today.


Second Reading: Romans 5:6-11

This is a very moving reading, but will need some work before proclaiming it. The second sentence is very long: aim for ‘what proves God loves us’, and then pause for a second after finishing the sentence. Then we have two rhetorical questions: whenever we encounter questions like this, it is always worthwhile giving people a moment to think after each question. You should take Paul’s words and deliver them as a speech (rather than just reading them), engaging your listeners and allowing them time to react to what you are saying. The reading ends on a high note, so emphasise ‘through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.’ Think a little about the meaning of ‘reconciliation’: Paul is saying that once God and man had ‘fallen out’, and drifted apart. Our faith as Catholics is built on the fact that the reconciliation we could never achieve on our own has been achieved for us by Jesus Christ. Therefore it is ‘through him’ that we can be righteous.


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