Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
The link between the First Reading and Gospel is not immediately apparent today, until you look at the “headings” which are always chosen “to make the connection between readings of the same Mass clear.” (Introduction to the Lectionary n.123.) The “headings” present us with a simple picture today: a river of peace flowing out from the Lord, which we see in the Gospel as the flowing of the disciples as they are sent out on their first mission. From the Lord of Peace, others, like ripples in a pool, flow out carrying his simple message: “Peace to this house!”
Notes for Readers
First Reading: Isaiah 66:10-14.
This is a beautiful piece of poetry: as always with poetry, the reader must look at the rhythm of words, the “colours” of phrases, and the pictures and images evoked. In poetry the “tone of voice” will change much more than in a story or piece of flat prose - there will be more emphasis, more rising and falling, in line with the rhythm and special words used. For example, in paragraph two: the prophet does not just refer to “Jerusalem’s breasts”, but highlights them with the words “consoling” and “glorious” - the reader must lean on these “highlight” words. The central paragraph is the key: the Lord speaks (so a new tone of solemnity is needed), and promises a river - indeed, a torrent - of peace and glory. Save something for the last paragraph, especially the line “your bones will flourish like grass”: “flourish” is a wonderfully expressive word - make the most of it.
Second Reading: Galatians 6:14-18.
This is the (rather abrupt) end of the letter, when Paul tries to summarise in short phrases the things that are important to him, that he wants the Galatians to be most aware of. He starts off by repeating his boast: the cross. This is central to Saint Paul’s life and ministry, since by becoming part of the mystery of the cross, each of us is a new creation in Jesus. This is what does away with the Law of Moses - all we need is Christ. You can, if you try, almost imagine Paul barking out these short phrases, “putting the lid” on a controversy that has dragged on far too long (i.e. the Law of Moses against the person of Christ). Certainly the last paragraph is marvellously abrupt: “I want no more trouble...”. Try to capture Paul’s abruptness, without rushing, and see if the congregation can detect a different tone in this reading.