Monday, August 31, 2015

Lectionary: 431

Bold          =       verse commented upon
Blue           =       Comment
Highlight   =       Direct command

Overall Comment
A theme running through these readings is that God has our ultimate good in mind, and although achieving that good requires some suffering on our part, See Hebrews 12:5-13, particularly Hebrews 12:11, He wants us to get to that good. He therefore sends us encouragement along the way.

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.
God does not want us to worry needlessly, particularly as a result of ignorance about His benevolent plan for His creation. Instead, He wants us to trust Him and His perfect plan, even when that plan involves suffering along the way. See Romans 8:18-39. He wants us to take an active part in allaying worry/distress, by consoling those who are distressed (as in this reading) and by communicating to all God’s utter goodness and rejoicing in the hope it provides  (as in the Psalm 96 below).

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of naught, but the LORD made the heavens.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the LORD, for he comes; for he comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy. This seems to refer to the same dynamic as Romans 8:19-22 .

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”

He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” God extends His love to all peoples, not just to “insiders.”

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lectionary 430

Highlight = direct command
Bold = verse commented upon
Blue = comment

On the subject of mutual charity you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. 10 Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Nevertheless we urge you, brothers, to progress even more, 11 and to aspire to live a tranquil life(i.e. to refrain from meddlesomeness or speech), to mind your own affairs, and to work with your [own] hands, as we instructed you.

This seems to set out the same principles discussed in Proverbs 15:16Proverbs 16:8, Proverbs 17:1, Sirach 3:17-23, Sirach 7:4-7, Sirach 10:27Sirach 11:20, and Tobit 12:8. It also seems to be the opposite of the attitudes/behavior described in Mark 6:17-29 below

R. (9) The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands, the mountains shout with them for joy.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to rule the earth; He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,  the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.

She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’ own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”

She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”

The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”

The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head.

He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

This incident illustrates what can happen when we fail to obey the instructions in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11, discussed above above.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lectionary: 429

Today’s readings track our Lord’s direction in Mark 12:28-34 that we should love God with full intensity and our neighbors as our selves. Consider the following excerpts from those readings, highlighted below.

Loving God:
“Be glad in the LORD, you just, and give thanks to his holy name.”
“Be vigilant at all times and pray”     “stay awake”
“God did not call us to impurity but to holiness”
“The LORD loves those who hate evil”

Loving our neighbors as our selves:
[“Do] not [] take advantage of or exploit a brother or sister”
“Justice and judgment are the foundation of [God’s] throne.”    
“Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart” 

Brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God–and as you are conducting yourselves– you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immoralitythat each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God; not to take advantage of or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, for the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you before and solemnly affirmed. For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad. Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the LORD of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory. The LORD loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful ones; from the hand of the wicked he delivers them. Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart. Be glad in the LORD, you just, and give thanks to his holy name.

Be vigilant at all times and pray, that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’

While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.

Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”