Feast of the Holy Family, Year C

1ST READING2ND READINGR&A VOCALSCOMMENTARYBIBLE STUDY

Sir 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1 Sm 1:20-22, 24-28

Lector and trainer Lisa Bellecci-St. Romaine gives meaningful insights into the reading while conversing with the viewer throughout her proclamation. (View Archive)
INTRODUCTION

Writing less than 200 years before Jesus, Sirach defended Judaism’s wisdom against pressure from dominant Greek ideas. Here he names care for elders as a cultural and spiritual treasure. —Greg Warnusz

Introduction/Notes to the Optional Reading

LECTOR PREP (GREG WARNUSZ)
The Historical Situation
Sirach is a very late book (around 180 B.C.E.), when compared with the books of Moses or the prophets. By this time in Israel’s history, the great theological battles about monotheism are over, the kings have come and gone, and the Exile is a distant memory. The prophets have been silent for a long time, and many Jews are living in cities where pagans are the majorities. In these circumstances, writers asked how one should live a good life, what moral and spiritual choices should one make, what behavior is honorable in a religious person?

Respecting and caring for elders is one of those honorable behaviors. The author depicts it as a way to get right with God, too.

Proclaiming the Passage
Proclaim this in a straightforward, imperative way. Pause briefly between the sentences. Pretend you are the author, the sage Jesus ben Sirach. (The modern, though secular, equivalent of the Hebrew sage giving such instruction is any of those self-help guru’s, whose two-hour conferences your PBS station trots out during pledge week. While I don’t mean to compare their messages to Sirach’s, their delivery, exuding so much confidence in their message, is worthy of your imitation.)
SOURCE: LectorPrep.org — Used with permission.
LECTOR WORKS (PAUL SCHLACHTER)
CENTRAL POINT – Second Option

Now I in turn give him to the Lord A woman took the decisive step here.

Objectives

lector preparation

  • Message for Assembly: How grateful are we for God’s gift to us of family?
  • Challenge: I will challenge myself: To find Hannah’s story and bring it out.
Reading Guide/Reflection

Well, Christmas is finally coming tomorrow!  Every homily I have heard in Advent has to do with Christmas, not with Christ.  But now Christmas will be on all our minds.  How then do we pay attention to this reading?

In those days Hannah conceived and bore a son.

  • So far the story is ordinary, but what follows does not make sense and is jarring to my sensibilities.

I will take him to appear before the Lord and to remain there  Hannah left Samuel there.

  • Neither my congregation nor I react positively about a broken family, in which the parents must give their children for adoption, or abandon them in a public place, or starve them deliberately.  The story looks ahead to the Gospel passage we will hear today, that is true.  But does Hannah’s offering of her son make sense for our own family values today?

praying to the Lord, praying for this child.

  • I know of many married couples who have been unable to have children or have had to wait many years, not just praying but by recurring to fertilization techniques.  Can I capture the intense longing and determination in Hannah’s voice, that is repeated so often in our own time?

The Lord granted my request.

  • Then I compare the offering of Samuel to the high priest Eli with the offering the widow made in the temple of “everything she had to live on.”  Suddenly I encounter not reckless abandon but gratitude and surrender.  I am even reminded of Abraham and his offering of Isaac.  Why?  If we believe that Mary gave birth only once, or if we remember long ago and modern day martyrs, we know that the primordial duty to perpetuate a family name can be superseded by God’s call.
SOURCE: Lectorworks.org — Used with permission.
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Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17 or 1 Jn 3:1-2, 21-24

Lector and trainer Lisa Bellecci-St. Romaine gives meaningful insights into the reading while conversing with the viewer throughout her proclamation. (View Archive)

INTRODUCTION

Earlier chapters of this letter explain how baptism makes Christians into a new creation in Christ. This chapter explains how the recreated person should now live. —Greg Warnusz

Introduction/Notes to the Optional Reading

LECTOR PREP (GREG WARNUSZ)
The Historical Situation
Prior chapters of Colossians have explained how the Christian is made a new creation by baptism into Christ. The letter winds up, as Paul’s letters often do, with ethical exhortations. He’s saying, in effect, “Because you’re recreated, here’s how you should now behave.”

Proclaiming the Passage
Read this quietly a few times and imagine how nice it would be to live among people who try to live this way (maybe you already do). Think gratefully about the compassionate, forgiving people you do know. Steep your soul in that gratitude for a few minutes. When you go to the lectern to proclaim this passage, remember those feelings. You want your listeners to say “I’m in!” when they hear your description of the healthy Christian community, so you have to sound like you want in, too.

Ask the presider or preacher at your mass if you should read the optional verses 18-21. At least one is a little inflammatory (in this author’s country, if not everywhere) if not introduced from a historical perspective.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org — Used with permission.
LECTOR WORKS (PAUL SCHLACHTER)

CENTRAL POINT

We are God’s children

Objectives
  • lector preparationMessage for the assembly: This kind of community is supposed to transform us, as we hear today.  Having confidence in Godreceiving whatever we askdoing what pleases him.
  • Challenge: Not so much to tell the church about something they don’t know, as to remind them of what we should be.  Liturgy helps build community, and to a certain extent creates it.  By my ministry, by the way I repeat the apostle’s word, I can witness to this and stimulate it.
Reading Guide/Reflection

I have just heard how the prophet found a divine strategy at work in a small town.  We learn two further truths in this passage about the Christ.

See what love the Father has bestowed on us.

  • The apostle writes of self-giving love such as Christ has for us.

Beloved, we are God’s children now.  When it is revealed we shall be like him.

  • I don’t hear much about human families here, but instead about something more fundamental: God’s family.

keep his commandments, in which we believe in the name of Jesus Christ and love one another.

  • And why do the commandments come in when we talk of love?  I am reminded once again of covenant love.  We welcome and keep his commandments, in which we believe in the name of Jesus Christ and love one another.  For this apostle, God first loved us and gave his Son.  And so, again quoting the medieval hymn, we ”love God in return.”

The Spirit he gave us

  • Is this a throwaway line pulled from a catechism, or does it tell us something we need to know about community?  The apostle says that it is the way we know, and that makes it the touchstone or proof of our life together.
SOURCE: Lectorworks.org — Used with permission.
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Gregory Warnusz

Sunday Scriptures for Community Leaders

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