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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

You too must stand ready.

The Word This Week

Vigilance: we wait for glory or ruin, salvation or disaster. This is the choice that faces the Christian each and every day, as we wait for the Lord to return, as he promised he would. We often live our lives leaving such things to a distant, shadowy future - like the person who is going to fix that faulty lock or window-frame, but in the end doesn’t get round to it before the burglar comes. The lamps of our lives should be lit and shining, filled to the brim with the oil of prayer and charity, singing the hymns of the fathers as we wait for the Master to return.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Wisdom 18:6-9

This is one of the hardest readings you will ever face - not in terms of words, meaning or phrasing, but in that it will be very hard for the congregation to make sense of it. (Always remember that as a Reader your job is to communicate with the congregation.) What all this refers to is the night of Passover, when the angel of Death took the first-born of the Egyptians and spared the Israelites, so that they could be freed from slavery in Egypt. This is the “vengeance” referred to, and the “Glory” is the Exodus, the escape of the people. As the reading says, this happened by one and the same act - the destruction of the first-born, Passover and Exodus were the defining moment of the Israelite as “a people chosen by God.” In reading, whatever else you do, emphasise the sense that the people were “chosen by God” - using words like “people”, “virtuous”, “calling us to you”, “devout children”, “the saints”. If you can convey some sense of the joy of this summary of Passover, all the better. Good luck!


Second Reading: Hebrews 11:1-2.9-19

Even though this is a long reading, it is reasonably clear, and if you, the Reader, follow the logic, the congregation should make good sense of it. It is about Faith: trusting in what we cannot see, believing in what we cannot prove, even against the odds. The author gives three examples: Abraham giving up his home and country to follow God’s call, Sarah being granted a child in her old age, and Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac. In each of these cases, the one called trusted in God - had faith. If you read the longer version (check!) you will get the more complicated exposition of this: the lovely image of living a nomadic life on earth, and taking things here lightly, because we are heading for a city built by God in heaven.  Make sure you know what you are reading, that you understand it - then the congregation will too.


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