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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


"Like Elijah and Elisha, Jesus is not sent to the Jews only."


The Word This Week


Last week, when Jesus spoke in the synagogue, his words pleased the crowd - as we hear at the beginning of today's Gospel. How quickly the mood changes! This story shows very clearly that Jesus was not a "crowd-pleaser" - he wasn't interested in saying the right things to be popular or accepted. He was interested in the truth - which is the basic definition of a prophet - whatever the personal cost. So today, when Jesus points out that salvation is not just for the Jews, or even just the people of Nazareth, they reject the message and the messenger. Just like Jeremiah, when he was called to be a prophet (first reading), Jesus has to confront the land: they will fight with him, but not overcome him.


Notes for Readers


First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5.17-19.

Of all the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah is the one most closely identified with Jesus, because of the way in which he was rejected by the people. This happened because he fulïfilled the task put on him at his call - to speak the truth without fear of those who would try to silence him. When God calls a prophet, he certainly doesn't mince his words! See how clearly the call of God in this reading faces up to the truth of opposition and conflict. The central truth of the reading is "brace yourself for action". It is important also to realise where the strength of the prophet comes from: if the prophet is faithful to God's words ("it is the Lord who speaks") then God himself will be the prophet's strength. Use the "sense-lines": take your time, but deliver this call with a certain firmness and directness. Underline the words which talk of conflict, and those which describe God's support.


Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

This is one of the most famous passages of the New Testament. There is a danger that familiarity will make this reading harder rather than easier. Remember the context: Paul is trying to persuade the argumentative Corinthians to stop squabbling in their Churches and work together as a single community. That is why he praises love above all the virtues, because it is the only thing which can hold any community together. Again apply this reading in your mind to the parish in front of you - let Paul's words be addressed to them, through you. Allow this reading to sink into people's hearts: especially when you get to the list of what love is and does, allow each one to be taken in before moving on to the next. Don't worry that this will sound strange: people will appreciate the chance to think about what love is.



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