Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
The Word This Week
We have many sayings about results being more important than promises, such as “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. Today’s scripture readings are all about this – the ways in which our words and actions will reveal who we truly are. There is a wonderful mosaic of poetic wisdom in the readings this Sunday – images and parables and similes that can sit in our heads and hearts, and make us think about the sort of people we are, and the words we use and the fruits we produce by them. And we should pray that we will always produce good, sound fruit, so that we may keep on working at the Lord’s work always, and so share in Christ’s victory over death itself.
Notes for Readers
First Reading: Ecclesiasticus 27:4-7
This is one of the hardest Old Testament readings you will ever have to proclaim – not because it is long or contains weird and wonderful Old Testament names, but because it condenses some very deep thoughts into some very concentrated poetic images. This is a double chocolate pudding with extra chocolate on top sort of reading! It’s one of those readings that you absolutely must practise out loud beforehand, to make sure you get the phrasing and emphasis right. When reading a list of images, try to picture each one, to get the point of the image in your own mind – this will help you read with understanding. The first line of this reading is typical of this – picture yourself with a sieve in the garden or the kitchen, and apply that picture to the idea of our words being what is left behind when we are “sieved” by ordinary human conversation. Notice that there are four points in this reading – our talk, our conversation, our words and our speech. Make sure you separate them our clearly both in your preparation and proclamation.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
This is one of Saint Paul’s most famous passages, which has inspired hymns and poems and given great consolation to people in times of loss. Treat these words with care and respect. The reading begins with a set of opposites – typical of Saint Paul. He balances mortality with immortality and (which might be a bit of a mouthful) perishability and imperishabilty. He is talking about the resurrection of the body – the same thing that happened to Jesus on the first Easter Sunday morning. He then goes on to use the word “death” four times, but not in a negative way, simply to explain how Jesus’ victory over death is so complete. This is why, even in the face of death, we “thank God for giving us the victory”. Make sure that your voice is triumphant throughout all this passage. The final paragraph is very gentle and positive encouragement – bring your voice down a touch, and look for a tone of deep encouragement.