Paul’s angriest letter: Galatians

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

Galatians, selections of which are read in the early Sundays of Ordinary Time after Eastertide in Year C, reads like Paul’s hastiest and angriest letter. He addresses the recipients as “foolish Galatians!” (Gal 3.1) And the letter includes one of his rudest comments, carefully left out of the lectionary, “Those agitators [arguing for circumcision] had better go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves!” (Gal 5:12 REB) Paul’s passion and anger revolve around the subjects of circumcision especially, but also sharing a common meal.

A statue of Paul with a sword (symbolising the word of God) seems particularly appropriate for this fiery letter. The statue is in St Paul’s Outside the Walls, Rome.
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Working with Numbers

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

Leviticus was wholly legal instruction, but with the book of Numbers, we again have substantial sections of story. These narratives tell more of the travels of the Israelite people, as they make their way through the wilderness to the promised land. The lectionary only uses three short excerpts from this story.

The first is a blessing, probably better known from its use in worship than directly from the biblical book. “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26) It provides the first reading for the 1st January, eight days after Christmas, when the gospel relates the circumcision and naming of Jesus.1 It helps relate the continuity of God’s promise of blessing between the two testaments, especially in the way Luke portrays the holy family’s torah-observant piety.

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