Monday, October 26, 2015

A Layman’s Take on Today’s Readings: Lectionary 479

Bold = verse commented upon
Blue = comment
Brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
God arises; his enemies are scattered, and those who hate him flee before him. But the just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice.
The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
Blessed day by day be the Lord, who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation. God is a saving God for us; the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.
Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth.
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

1.     God is inherently good. He wants to set us free from bondage and adopt each one of us as his child. He ministers to the vulnerable (widows, orphans, the forsaken, prisoners). He is so good that He causes those who live in close relationship with Him to “rejoice and exult before” Him, even though they experience difficulties in this world. He will help us bear our burdens.
2.     We simply need to come to Him to access His goodness, to “cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” He will receive us as a loving father receives his child, even if we have really messed up.  See Luke 15 especially verses 11 through 24; Isaiah 55 especially verses 6 through 11.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Layman’s Take on Today’s Readings: Lectionary 149

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Blue = comment

Thus says the LORD: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The LORD has delivered his people,
the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng. They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.

 When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.

Brothers and sisters: Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: You are my son: this day I have begotten you; just as he says in another place: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me."
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him,
"Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see."
Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you."  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

1.        God is there for His faithful ones, for the ones who actively, sincerely seek Him. See Malachi 3:16-21; Psalm 37; Sirach 2:3-11  
2.       He is there in spite of our flaws and weaknesses, and in spite of the flaws and weaknesses of others. Psalm 37:23-24; Psalm 55:22
3.      We need to call out to Him, and keep calling out to Him, following Bartimaeus’ example. Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 55:6; Proverbs 2  

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Layman’s Take on Today’s Readings: Lectionary 473

Bold = verse commented upon
Blue = comment
Highlight=direct command
Brothers and sisters: Abraham did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God and was fully convinced that what God had promised he was also able to do. That is why it was credited to him as righteousness. But it was not for him alone that it was written that it was credited to him; it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.
He has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty savior, born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”
1.    Trust in/focus on God instead of ourselves (1st reading & Gospel)
2.    God is worthy of our trust/devotion (2d reading)

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

A Layman’s Take on Today’s Readings: Lectionary 463

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

Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh. He prayed, “I beseech you, LORD, is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish. And now, LORD, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the LORD asked, “Have you reason to be angry?”
Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it, where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city. And when the LORD God provided a gourd plant that grew up over Jonah’s head,giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort, Jonah was very happy over the plant. But the next morning at dawn God sent a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind; and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head till he became faint. Then Jonah asked for death, saying, “I would be better off dead than alive.”
But God said to Jonah, “Have you reason to be angry over the plant?”
“I have reason to be angry,” Jonah answered, “angry enough to die.”
Then the LORD said, “You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor
and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?”
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for to you I call all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name. For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God.
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father!
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”
1.  The theme that runs throughout today’s readings is God reaching out to and wanting real relationship with us.  The concept seems to be the same as the dynamic that expressed in Wisdom 7:23:  “beneficent, friendly to human beings”(New Jerusalem Bible). See also Isaiah 55,  John 3:16, and Romans 5:8,  

2.  God cared about the Ninevites, even though they were                        pagans.

3.    As in other readings so far this week, we are encouraged to call upon God, to reach out to Him. See Jonah 2:3-5, 8 and Psalm 130:1-4, 7-8
4.    God wants us converse with Him through out the day, carrying on an ongoing conversation. This seems like the same dynamic underlying  1 Thessalonians 5:17 and The Practice of the Presence of God 

5.      The Holy Spirit calls us to God as a child is called to his or                         her parent.

6.    Jesus was happy to teach the disciples to pray—to interact with God. In fact, the verses in today’s reading are followed by other verses exhorting us to pray. See Luke 11:5-13