Week of Proper 19: Thursday, Year 1   15 comments

Above: Timothy and His Grandmother, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

“Do not let people disregard you….”

SEPTEMBER 21, 2017

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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1 Timothy 4:12-16 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Do not let people disregard you because you are young, but be an example to all the believers in the way you speak and behave, and in your love, your faith and your purity.  Make use of the time until I arrive by reading to the people, preaching and teaching.  You have in you a spiritual gift which was given to you when the prophets spoke and the body of elders laid their hands on you; do not let it lie unused.  Think hard about all this, and put it into practice, and everyone will be able to see how you are advancing.  Take great care about what you do and what you teach; always do this, and in this way you will both save yourself and those who listen to you.

Psalm 111:7-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever,

because they are done in truth and equity.

9 He sent redemption to his people;

he commanded his covenant for ever;

holy and awesome is his Name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

those who act accordingly have a good understanding;

his praise endures for ever.

Luke 7:36-50 (The Jerusalem Bible):

One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal.  When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town.  She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment.  She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself,

If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.

Then Jesus took him up and said,

Simon, I have something to say to you.

The reply was,

Speak, Master.

Jesus said,

There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty.  They were unable to pay, so he pardoned them both.  Which of them will love him more?

Simon answered,

The one who was pardoned more, I suppose.

Jesus said,

You are right.

Then he turned to the woman.

Simon,

he said,

do you see this woman?  I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love.  It is the man who is forgiven little who  shows little love.

Then he said to her,

Your sins are forgiven.

Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves,

Who is this man, that he even forgives sins?

But he said to the woman,

Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

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The Collect:

O God, because without you we are not able to please you mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Among the lessons I derive from my studies of history is this:  There is far more to a person than his or her Curriculum Vitae.  Three of the worst Presidents of the United States (if not the worst) were Millard Fillmore (1850-1853), Franklin Pierce (1853-1857), and James Buchanan (1857-1861).  They came from two parties, so this judgment does not indicate any partisan bias I carry.  These men, with CVs ranging from the skinny to the thick, helped lead this nation toward a civil war in 1861.  Of the three Buchanan was the most experienced; he was an old pol.

Likewise, youth is neither inherently good nor bad relative to experience.  The verdict varies according to each circumstance.  Timothy was a good case for demonstrating the virtues of youth.  He was young but capable, having learned much of his faith from his grandmother.  He did take care with regard to what he said and did, to the end, which came in 97 C.E., when he denounced a pagan festival and met his martyrdom as a result.

The woman in Luke 7:36-50 was also despised.  This story, with some variations, appears in all four canonical gospels.  Simon was either a leper (Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 26:6-13) or a Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50).  The woman was either an anonymous prostitute (Luke 7:36-50) or Mary of Bethany (John 12:1-11) or just unnamed (Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 26:6-13).  And she either anointed his feet (John 12:1-11, Luke 7:36-50) or his head (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9).  These are the kinds of details which render Biblical literalism an unfeasible position.

But let us take the story in Luke as we have it.  Simon the Pharisee was socially respectable, and the prostitute was not.  He had neglected to perform basic etiquette according to his culture, but the woman of ill repute exceeded it.  The portrayal of Jesus in this story is consistent with that in other Gospel accounts in which Jesus associates with notorious sinners.  Why them?  They knew and accepted their need for repentance–literally, turning around and changing one’s mind–and forgiveness.  Jesus offered this freely, but the spiritually proud resisted this invitation.

Jesus still offers this invitation, and the vehicles of it might be socially respectable, or not.  They might be young, middle-aged, or elderly.  They might be like you or very different from you.  But all of them have spiritual gifts from God.  May we not disregard each other because of our preconceived notions.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/disregarding-people/

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