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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

This site provides something different: many sites and books provide a brief summary of the reading – so that people read out or have in their pew sheet an outline of what they are about to hear. They are told beforehand what to expect. Does this not limit what they hear the Spirit address them? This site provides something different – often one cannot appreciate what is being read because there is no context provided. This site provides the context, the frame of the reading about to be heard. It could be used as an introduction, printed on a pew sheet (acknowledged, of course), or adapted in other ways.

Exodus 1:8-2:10

Today in the continuous reading begins nine Sundays in the book of Exodus. The priests who have given this scroll its definitive form at the time of the Babylonian Exile developed stories passed down in order to interpret this past and help to make the past relevant to the present. The Exodus model thus developed has become central in our own contemporary interpretations.

Isaiah 51:1-6

Roman Catholics and those who use that version of the three year series, have a different related reading: Isaiah 22:19-23. Isaiah 51 uses the ancient story of Abraham and Sarah as a paradigm as well as “Zion” (possibly originally meaning “dry place” or “hilltop”) and the ancient story of Eden.

Romans 12:1-8

The literary style of Paul’s letters concludes with practical application. Chapter 12 begins the concrete application of Paul’s teachings presented in this letter.

Matthew 16:13-20
From last Sunday we skip the second miracle of the loaves and the Pharisees and Sadducees asking for a sign. John Pilch (The Cultural World of Jesus) writes: “Jesus’s question is not a “theology quiz” for his disciples. It reflects a normal, Mediterranean curiosity by Jesus, a dyadic personality, about what other people think. Like everyone else in this culture, Jesus needs such feedback because he does not know who he is, and he is trying to learn this from significant others in his life.” If Matthew’s Gospel reflects a reasonable chronology in Jesus’ life, we see him joining John the Baptist, taking up and extending that mission when John the Baptist is imprisoned, reflecting on his future and even leaving Hebrew territory on the execution of John the Baptist, reflecting (today) on who he is, and going on to predict that he too will suffer execution. Perceptive and flaky Simon gets a nickname “Rocky” and receives authority that will later be shared by all the apostles.

Today’s readings online