of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Today is one of those occasions when, even though the second reading is not chosen to correspond to the theme of the Gospel and first reading, it does in fact fit very well. Indeed, much of the letter to the Romans is explained in this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word: the whole theme is summed up in this: the Messiah came first of all to the people of Israel, to whom the promises were made in the past - but it could not remain there. The good news had to be taken to the ends of the earth, so that all peoples, indeed the whole of creation could welcome the Messiah and take a place in the Kingdom of God. All nations are welcome on God’s holy mountain: “Let all the peoples praise you, O God!”

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 56:1.6-7.
You will have to be careful with this reading: there are some difficult technical words which a congregation might not catch, such as ‘integrity’, ‘manifest’, ‘Sabbath, ‘covenant’, holocausts’. Take special care to read them clearly. The whole point of this piece of Scripture is to confirm that righteous ‘foreigners’ can take their place on God’s holy mountain. The first paragraph acts as a prelude to this announcement: in the long sentence underline ‘Foreigners’ and what will happen to them: ‘These I will bring to my holy mountain.’ In the sentence about sacrifices, perhaps you should emphasise it thus: ‘...their sacrifices will be accepted’. Similarly, emphasise the last words: ‘...for all the peoples.’
Second Reading: Romans 11:13-15. 29-32.
Be careful with the first line: ‘pagans’ for Paul is not a negative term, as it is for us today. The next line makes this clear: ‘I am proud of being sent...’ Paul develops the idea that has been present in this letter from the beginning: how to reconcile the two groups involved in the mystery of salvation: the pagans and the people of Israel. The former have accepted the message, while the latter seem to have rejected it. Compare last week’s reading to see how strongly Paul longs to see Israel accept the Messiah. 'My own people’ are the Jews: read through the first paragraph carefully, to identify who Paul is talking about. Exclamation marks don’t appear often in scripture: let the one near the end of the first paragraph tell you how to read that line! In the final paragraph be aware of the contrast that Paul is making: between the once obedient people of Israel and the once disobedient pagans, now that they have exchanged roles. Be sure to emphasise the last sentence, especially the word ‘mercy’.

From the Catechism

CCC 543-544
Kingdom first to Israel, now for all who believe

CCC 674
Christ’s coming hope of Israel; their final acceptance of Messiah

CCC 2610
Power of invocation with sincere faith

CCC 831, 849
The catholicity of the Church

CCC 543-544
Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus' word: "The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest." The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to "preach good news to the poor"; he declares them blessed, for "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." To them - the "little ones" the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

Gospel Wordsearch