Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
The Word this Week
What is compassion? What is love? And how do we live them out in our own age? These are the questions that spring from the Gospel today. In many ways this is the hardest teaching Jesus offers us, because it goes against so much of what the "modern world" would have us believe. Look at the first reading: David and Saul are enemies, and Saul is suddenly in David's power. The logic of the modern world would say "Strike while you can." But David chooses another path. He is compassionate. We can all think of times when we were in a position to take revenge, score a victory over someone, take it out on them. Our measure of our faith is whether or not we were compassionate - especially with our enemies - as Jesus taught us.
Notes for Readers
First Reading: 1 Samuel 26.7-23.
Saul had taken David in as an ally, but things had gone wrong and the two are now at war. The war would end if the King died, for then David would be victorious. Victory is here, literally, within David's grasp. So how dramatic it is that David does not let Abishai kill the King! It is this sense of drama that the reader must convey in proclaiming this story. First, it is a story, so tell it. Get a sense of the characters - hot-headed Abishai and thoughtful David. The drama is easy for a contemporary audience to understand. Secondly, make sure you see the message - compassion, even in war. Use this knowledge of the underlying message to help you emphasise certain words and phrases - not just reading out the words, but trying to help the listening congregation to be part of the drama, to see it from the inside.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians15:45-49
This is one of those readings – normally in Saint Paul – which almost defy simple understanding when read out loud: it is probably the frequent repetition of a few words ("earthly", "heavenly", "man", "spirit") that can make it very difficult to keep track of what's going on. So what is going on? Paul is comparing Adam and Jesus: through Adam (the "earthly man") came sin and death and worldly things. Jesus, the second Adam, has come from heaven to lead us back to heaven. The only way you can make sense of this reading is to take it in small chunks: each pair of contrasts should be delivered, then pause. Stress the words "earthly" and "heavenly" whenever they appear, in order to separate out the meaning of the passage. Good luck!
Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.