Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
The Word This Week
Watch early for wisdom: wise words, and ones that the foolish bridesmaids of the Gospel should have taken to heart. This is the ultimate in putting off till tomorrow..., since the reading is about the end of time, when the Son of Man will come again. Then there will be no tomorrow. If a thing is worth doing, its worth doing today. Quite often we contemplate the end of time with anxiety and fear: this is not what God wants. Look at the Psalm, where we hear of desperate longing, a thirst for the Lord, that cannot wait. We should not just wait for the Lord with patient endurance, but with impatient longing: what could we desire more than the coming of the Lord, the rising of the dead and an eternity of joy and glory?
Notes for Readers
Theres an unusual tone about this reading: it is enticing, encouraging, leading people on in the search for wisdom. Nothing is stated clearly, in black and white, but there is a poetic vagueness which is to tease the listener into looking for this elusive thing called wisdom. The reader is alternately friendly, even colloquial (Watch for her early, and you will have no trouble...) and mysterious (Even to think about her is understanding fully grown...). The reader must make sure that, however else you read this, what comes across is that wisdom is worth having, and that it is waiting to be found. Take the reading fairly slowly - some of the expression are quite complex and will take a bit of sinking in. Read with great clarity, and a brightness and attractiveness in your voice.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
This is a truly amazing reading, one of the most powerful we encounter in the Sunday scriptures. It is a bald and uncompromising statement of a central truth of our faith: the resurrection of the dead. The most remarkable thing about this passage is the clarity and detail with which Paul describes the scene: he writes with absolute faith in the promises of the Lord Jesus. To read it well will demand the same sort of faith - lock yourself away with this reading, and repeat again and again these words: we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus. The deepest comfort and hope of our faith is this: not some ethereal heaven, but a true rising to life, body and soul, as we see in Jesus. Read with rock-solid conviction; present these words to the congregation as a supreme expression of our faith in the resurrection. Grab their attention, if necessary, by the power of your own faith as you read.