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Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

There will be rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner.

The Word This Week

The message of God’s forgiveness is one that we are familiar with, but which the Lord still wishes to emphasise. Our human approach to forgiveness is so often flawed – we hold grudges, erect barriers, make demands and establish conditions. Jesus wants to remind his listeners – and us – that God’s forgiveness is overflowing and bountiful. Saint Paul was well aware of this: he had persecuted the Church, calling himself “the greatest of sinners”; and yet, thanks to the “inexhaustible patience” of God, he can count himself a believer. We must be open to the gift of forgiveness for ourselves, and also (as the Parable of the Elder Brother shows) open to that forgiveness offered to other whom we would condemn.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Exodus 32:7-11.13-14

There is a story in this passage: sin, pleading and forgiveness. It is important to highlight these, so that the links with the Gospel story of the Prodigal Son can be seen. The sin is not visible: it is described by God in the first paragraph: be careful with the words “apostasised” which is not a common English word: use the description of the Golden Calf to create a sense of God’s justified anger at the people he is trying to save. Moses is let off the hook – he will still inherit the promise – but he pleads for the people. This is quite bold: he actually reminds God of His promise! Make sure you have a tone of entreaty and earnestness in your voice. Finally – and if you are not careful people will miss it – the whole point of the story is revealed in the last two lines: God forgives the people, he relents. There should be a tone of relief here – but make sure you underline this part, so that the congregation realises we are talking about the mercy of God before we go into the Psalm.


Second Reading:1 Timothy 1:12-17

Saint Paul is being at his most personal – or, indeed, confessional – here. He describes to the young bishop, Timothy, his own experience of God’s forgiveness through Christ. This is a powerful reading, and is more straightforward than much of Saint Paul’s writing. You still have to be careful with his sentences and phrases, however – make sure you read them out loud beforehand, so that you can get the right emphases and tones. When preparing, and when reading, keep in mind a sort of ‘headline’, which helps you unlock the meaning of the words: this will, in turn, help those listening to you. Today, for example, you may simply take the words “Paul admits: he’s a great sinner, but Jesus had mercy on him.” Apply these words to every sentence, to understand what Saint Paul is going on about. There are some long words and awkward expression in this reading: it would be a shame if Paul’s soul-bearing were not appreciated by the congregation, so practice carefully.


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




The Catholic Association for Racial Justice


CARJ is an independent charity and an Agency of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, established in 1984 and celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2009.

The CARJ prayer

Heavenly God, we praise your name and thank you for your glorious goodness and mercy. Lord Jesus, we pray a blessing for all those actively engaged in the struggle for racial justice. Holy Spirit, we beseech you to enter into the minds and hearts of all those in authority in the Church.


Grant that we may:

Hear the voices crying out for justice

Engage in developing a better understanding

Act to bring about change

Lead and inspire others by their good example.


We ask this through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The love of God is greater than all evil. We pray for racial justice in our lives in our parishes in our dioceses in our land. Amen.


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.


Let us pray for racial justice in our community and our world, that the fact that each human being is created in the image and likeness of God may be valued and celebrated. Lord, in your mercy … or Lord, hear us …


Let us pray for patience, tolerance and fairness in our society, that we may welcome all those in need, regardless of race or colour. Lord, in your mercy … or Lord, hear us …