Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
"Never in Israel have I found faith like this!"
The Word This Week
God’s election of Israel as the Chosen People was never meant to limit God’s grace and gifts to that people alone: while it was an exclusive Covenant relationship, it was not an excluding relationship, as the Old Testament reading today makes clear. This is extended by Jesus, who freely gives his gift of healing to someone counted a “foreigner” – just as for Solomon, it is not the label that matters, but the faith that Jesus looks for. The Church has continued this, ever since the first Council in Jerusalem confirmed that “pagans” could be welcomed into the family of the Church (Acts 15:19-21): we are a family united in a wonderful relationship with our God – but a relationship that does exclude anyone from the possibility of faith.
Notes for Readers
First Reading: 1 Kings 8:41-43
This passage comes from the sequence describing the dedication of the great Temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon. The meaning is fairly clear – Solomon asks God to listen to “foreigners” who are not part of the People of Israel offering their prayers in his new Temple. The problem comes in the phrasing – Solomon’s speech is a single sentence! You will need to try this out loud, just to make sure that your pauses are in the right place. Also remember that this is a prayer – Solomon is talking to God, who is the “you” in this sentence. Be very careful with the middle line: “hear from heaven, where your home is” – it would be very easy for this to be misunderstood. As always, make sure you know what the reading is trying to say before you try to read it out loud.
Second Reading: Galatians 1:1-2.6-10
The beginning of another letter is always an opportunity to remind ourselves that we read these letter of Saint Paul in a continuous way Sunday by Sunday. We spend five Sundays with the letter Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia, a region which surrounds modern day Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Saint Paul writes back to a Christian community which he has visited (or founded) addressing some of the problems they are facing. It seems that the Christians in Galatia were very rent by dissension, especially concerning the relations between Jewish and non-Jewish converts to Christianity. In this reading, Paul is doing two things: underlining his own authority as a minister of the Word of God, and chastising the Galatians for falling away from the Gospel so quickly. This reading, unlike many Pauline letters, should not be too challenging – just be careful about pauses and breathing. Paul repeats himself in this passage – allow his emphasis to come out clearly.