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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Tell me to come to you across the water

The Word This Week

How does God reveal himself to us? Most of the time, in precisely the way we do not expect! This is what happened to Elijah: we expect God - all-powerful, almighty - to appear in dramatic effects of nature; but no, God is in a gentle breeze. Similarly in the Gospel: the disciples do not expect Jesus to come towards them walking on the lake - but he does. And when God is revealed in the unexpected, he gives courage and strength: Elijah was afraid when he went to Horeb, but was strengthened by his encounter with God to continue his mission; in the same way the disciples are given courage and faith by the Lord who walks to them on the waters.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9.11-13

Elijah is afraid and depressed, his life having been threatened by King Ahab and Jezebel. He is invited to go to Horeb (‘The mountain of the Lord’) in order to have his strength renewed. This is a strange, almost mystical reading: because it is dealing with the presence of God, there is almost something about it that cannot be put into words: the best preparation is to picture the scene, seeing the incredible drama of the performance that nature puts on when God goes past, but knowing the amazing contrast that the God of power is in the gentlest breeze. Read simply and without drama: underline the words: ‘Then the Lord himself went by.’  The following phrases are a list: allow each picture to sink in before reading ‘But the Lord was not in ...’ If your amplification system can stand it, it can be very effective to drop your voice slightly (whilst making sure everyone can hear) when you get to the ‘sound of a gentle breeze’. Certainly allow the reading to end very calmly.


Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5

This is pure passion - heady, insistent and heartfelt. The first sentence gives it away: Paul repeats himself, and almost gets tied up in his statement of conviction. What he is saying is simply this: that he suffers anguish that the children of Israel, God’s chosen people, do not accept Christ as Messiah. Paul writes with the full-blown passion of a preacher who sees his work as incomplete. When reading, allow the passion of the first four or five lines to come out. Really stress the words ‘help my brothers of Israel’. The reading ends rather abruptly, with the praises of Jesus Christ: this is probably expressive of Paul impassioned outpouring. Again, without acting, try to get Paul’s message and mood across.


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