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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

I am gentle and humble of heart

The Word This Week

Today’s Gospel in an answer to a very simple question: who is this Jesus we follow? What is he like? He tells us himself: he is gentle, and humble of heart. There is a simplicity about this Gospel which speaks very clearly to tired hearts. Indeed, it is often the case that we overlook the simplicity of the Gospel message - which is why it is valuable to be as children, constantly wondering and marvelling at the beauty and fascination of Jesus. How much God must love us: the message of salvation is so easy to receive, the promise is so welcome. This is a Sunday to wallow in the wonder of a God who is ‘kind and full of compassion.’

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-10

At the centre of this passage is a remarkable contrast: the victorious king, in his triumph procession, is described as ‘humble’. For us, victory and humility seem to be concepts that sit together uneasily: this reading makes it perfectly clear that when we are talking about God, we have a King who perfectly combines humility and victory (as we see  in the cross). A further interesting feature about this king: having won his victory, he will abolish the trappings of war, and proclaim peace - with no thought of further conquest or empire. As you proclaim this reading, your voice should have a tone of gladness and triumph, but also of amazement at what this king actually is. Especially emphasise the contrast in lines four and five: ‘he is victorious, he is triumphant - humble and riding on a donkey...’ [Note: in the last two lines: ‘sea to sea’ = from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea; ‘the River’ is the Euphrates.]


Second Reading: Romans 8:9.11-13

Paul explores another contrast: here between the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘unspiritual’. The ‘spiritual’ life we must lead is a life which follows the dictates of the Holy Spirit living within us. It is not following an external example, but allowing the divine life within us (by Baptism) to dictate how we live. Obviously, this reading addresses all of us gathered in church. Prepare the first paragraph carefully: the second sentence is rather awkward: ‘him/he who raised Jesus from the dead’ is a title; stress ‘living in you’ (twice) and ‘will give life’. Bring out each contrast strongly: ‘spiritual’/’unspritual’; ‘doomed to die’/’you will live’. It is difficult to sum up the way this reading should be proclaimed: you need to practice reading it aloud, in order to ensure that the pauses and stresses allow the meaning to be grasped by the listeners.


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