Week of Proper 22: Tuesday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, by Johannes Vermeer

Image in the Public Domain

Grace That Violates Conventions

OCTOBER 10, 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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Jonah 3:1-10 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:

Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it what I tell you.

Jonah went at once to Nineveh in accordance with the LORD’s command.

Nineveh was an enormously large city a three days’ walk across.  Jonah started out  and made his way into the city the distance of one day’s walk, and proclaimed:

Forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown!

The people of Nineveh believed God.  They proclaimed a fast, and great and small alike put on sackcloth.  When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes.  And he had the word cried through Nineveh:

By decree of the king, and his nobles:  No man or beast–of flock and heard–shall taste anything!  They shall not graze, and they shall not drink water!  They shall be covered with sackcloth–man and beast–and shall cry mightily to God.  Let everyone turn back from his evil ways and from the injustice of which he is guilty.  Who knows but that God may turn and relent?  He may turn back from His wrath, so that we do not perish.

God saw what they did, how they were turning back from their evil ways.  And God renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon them, and did not carry it out.

Psalm 6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger,

do not punish me in your wrath.

2  Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak;

heal me, LORD, for my bones are racked.

3  My spirit shakes with terror;

how long, O LORD, how long?

4  Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;

save me for your mercy’s sake?

5  For in death no one remembers you;

and who will give you thanks in the grave?

6  I grow weary because of my groaning;

every night I drench my bed

and flood my couch with tears.

7  My eyes are wasted with grief

and worn away because of all my enemies.

8  Depart from me, all evildoers,

for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

9  The LORD has heard my supplication;

the LORD accepts my prayer.

10  All my enemies shall be confounded and quake with fear;

they shall turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

Luke 10:38-42 (The Jerusalem Bible):

In the course of their journey he came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking.  Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said,

Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself?  Please tell her to help me.

But the Lord answered:

Martha, Martha,

he said,

you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one.  It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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It is imperative to remember that Jesus, in Luke 10:38-42, was on his way to Jerusalem and the events of Holy Week.  So there he is, visiting friends in Bethany.  Martha was the responsible older sister tending to household chores, such as meal production.  This was a function of hospitality, a great social value in that society.  May we be slow to condemn her, then, for she meant well.

It is conceivable that Jesus did not tell everyone he knew all that was on his mind at any given moment.  Martha, in any case, did not know what was about to happen to her friend Jesus.  She probably wanted to offer the best meal possible for him.  And Mary, her younger sister, was not helping.  Instead, Mary was listening to Jesus, much as a male disciple would.  She had chosen the better part, the longer-lasting part.

Mary of Bethany, a woman, received a grace her society usually extended to men, and Jesus approved of her course of action.  God had Jonah pronounce judgment on Nineveh in Jonah 3 then witnessed widespread repentance and relented.  Women act like men and God forgives repentant Gentile hostiles.  There is nothing like grace to overturn the apple cart.

How do we respond or react when we witness and become aware of these unexpected movements of grace?  May we not begrudge grace.  Rather, may we embrace and welcome it.  May we not worry and fret about matters of lesser importance, either.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/grace-that-violates-conventions/

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Posted April 27, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 2017, Canadian Anglican Lectionary Year 1, October

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