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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Ask, and it will be given to you.

The Word This Week

When we see the child in the sweet shop nagging and moaning at mum or dad for something, we probably don’t think of it as a model of our prayer lives! And yet, if we take the word of God seriously today, that is exactly what out faith teaches us to do! The message is persistence - never giving up, even if prayers do not seem to be answered. We shouldn’t ask why they are not answered on the spot (God’s probably got a reason), but should just continue beating on the door of heaven in faith and hope.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Genesis 18:20-32.

In one sense this is a very easy reading, since it is a straightforward story, but there are elements that make it very challenging for a reader. The challenge comes from Abraham’s constant, almost irritating repetition of his request - bargaining with God in small steps or stages. The reader has got to try and make it interesting - perhaps the challenge is to think: every time Abraham makes his request, it should sound different - this makes six different ways of asking the same question! You will be helped by looking at the different ways Abraham himself introduces the request: “Do not think of it!” (= bold, assertive), “I who am dust and ashes” (= nervous?), “Perhaps there will...” (chancing it?), “give me leave to speak...” (being reasonable?), “I am bold indeed...” (more confident), and finally “I trust my Lord...” (relief at the last one?). Have a go - see if you can find a different tone to match each of the requests. As a contrast to all this tonal jumping about, notice that God’s answers are always calm, simple and to the point - his great patience shows!


Second Reading: Colossians 2:12-14

Back to one of Saint Paul’s most important teachings: Jesus Christ has done it all for us - all we have to do is surrender ourselves to is saving action. This is a remarkably rich, though very short reading. It will be more effective if you read very slowly indeed. Try this: after announcing the reading, take a pause and a breath, then fix your eye on the congregation and say “You have been buried with Christ, when you were baptised.”  Then let that sentence hang in the Church for a moment, before moving on - make sure you give the people time to think about what they are hearing. Do this throughout this reading. Watch your pauses: make sure you put one in after “you have been raised up with him” otherwise the sentence will get mangled. Also be conscious of the balancing of opposites, something Paul is very fond of. Keep a tone of triumph for the last line “by nailing it to the cross.”


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

Day of Special Prayer




Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended


Day for Life, initiated by the late Pope John Paul II, is the day of the year the Catholic Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales dedicates to celebrating the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Day for Life 2010 aims to present the Church’s teaching on death; it will highlight the importance of the sacrament of the sick, of praying for the dead and of accompanying the dying person as they journey towards God. It will also point towards the consoling presence and support of the community of faith and all of those who ‘have gone before us marked with the sign of faith’. God did not make us for death but for life. When we touch the mystery of death, in prayer, thought or experience, it leads us into the greater mystery of the eternal life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through our baptism we have already begun to live this life. We have entered into the mystery of death which Christ, by His resurrection, has changed forever. In Him, death is no longer our end but our ‘Passover’ into a truth and a life we cannot even begin to imagine because it is a life forever beyond the experience of death. (1 Cor 13.12; 15.42-44; 1 John 3.2)


Sample Intentions in the Prayer of the Faithful:


These intentions are given as examples.  It is not intended that a parish should use all of these intentions, rather that one of them might be added to the other intentions a community prays for this Sunday.


We pray for the dying and those who care for them.  May they be encouraged by these words of scripture “Come you whom my father and has blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you”. Lord, in your mercy … or Lord, hear us …


We pray for our community.  May we, following the example of Christ, be models of mercy and forgiveness. Lord, in your mercy … or Lord, hear us …