Week of Proper 24: Wednesday, Year 1   9 comments

Above:  Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, New York, New York

Image in the Public Domain

High Expectations and Great Responsibilities

OCTOBER 25, 2023


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.


Romans 6:12-19 (Revised English Bible):

Therefore sin must no longer reign in your mortal body, exacting obedience to the body’s desires.  You must no longer put any part of it at sin’s disposal, as an implement for doing wrong.  Put yourselves instead at the disposal of God; think of yourselves instead at the disposal of God; think of yourselves as raised from death to life, and yield your bodies to God as implements for doing right.  Sin shall no longer be your master, for you are no longer under law, but under grace.

What then?  Are we to sin, because we are not under law but under grace?  Of course not!  You know well enough that if you bind yourselves to obey a master, you are slaves of the master you obey; and this is true whether the master is sin and the outcome death, or obedience and the outcome righteousness.  Once you were slaves of sin, but now, thank God, you have yielded wholehearted obedience to that pattern of teaching to which you were made subject; emancipated from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness (to use language that suits your human weakness).  As you once yielded your bodies to the service of impurity and lawlessness, making for moral anarchy, so now you must yield them to the service of righteousness, making a holy life.

Psalm 124 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 If the LORD had not been on our side,

let Israel now say,

If the LORD had not been on our side,

when enemies rose up against us;

3 Then they would have swallowed us up alive

in their fierce anger toward us;

Then would the waters have overwhelmed us

and the torrent gone over us;

5 Then would the raging waters

have gone right over us.

6 Blessed be the LORD!

he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler;

the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Our help is in the Name of the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

Luke 12:39-48 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

Remember, if the householder had known at what time the burglar was coming he would not have let his house be broken into.  So hold yourselves in readiness, because the Son of Man will come at the time you least expect him.

Peter said,

Lord, do you intend this parable specially for us or is it for everyone?

The Lord said,

Who is the trusty and sensible man whom his master will appoint as his steward, to manage his servants and issue their rations at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master comes home and finds him at work!  I tell you this:  he will be put in charge of all his master’s property.  But if that servant says to himself, “The master is a long time coming,” and begins to bully the menservants and maids, and to eat and drink and get drunk, then the master will arrive on a day when the servant does not expect him, at a time he has not been told.  He will cut him in pieces and assign him a place among the faithless.

The servant who knew his master’s wishes, yet made no attempt to carry them out, will be flogged severely.  But one who did not know them and earned a beating will be flogged less severely.  Where someone has been given much, much will be expected of him; and the more he has had entrusted to him the more will be demanded of him.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Privilege carries responsibility.  This is a basic lesson in Biblical ethics.

Consider, in U.S. history, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was quite wealthy and usually close to power.  She used her position to, among other things, help common and poor people during the Great Depression, visit soldiers and sailors during World War II, work on international human rights after that war, and labor for civil rights during much of her life.  You might know, O reader, about her role in arranging Marian Anderson’s 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial, but did you know that the former First Lady risked her life in the 1950s while traveling through the South to teach civil rights workers civil disobedience tactics?  Klan members sought to murder her and the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not protect her during these risky travels.

And let us think of the second person of the Trinity, who left a position of prestige to become one of us, to suffer, and to die for us.  Jesus offers us liberation from sin to serve him.  May we say yes and act accordingly.  If we have said yes are acting accordingly, may we continue to do so.

The cost, of course, might be martyrdom, or at least great suffering.  Consider the eleven surviving Apostles plus Matthias, who filled the vacancy Judas left.  Only St. John died of old age/natural causes, but in exile.  The manner of dying for most of the other eleven was gruesome.

Each day enemies of the cross of Christ martyr more Christians across the world.  Do these makers of martyrs suppose that they will win?  History indicates that they will lose, for, as an old saying tells us, “The blood of the martyrs waters the church.”  And, as the Wisdom of Solomon says,

…the souls of the righteous are in Gods’ hand; no torment will touch them.  In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to be dead their departure was reckoned a defeat, and their going from us as disaster.  But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may suffer punishment, they have a sure hope of immortality…. (3:1-4, Revised English Bible)

Martyrdom, of course, is not every faithful Christian’s lot.  Yet grace, although free, is not cheap; it makes costly demands on us.  The call of being chosen by God carries with it corresponding responsibilities to others.  If we are to fulfill these well, we must change from what we are to what we ought to be.  This requires sacrifices.  Some people, for example, understand the call to sacrifice an easy and comfortable life so that they can become renewers of society.  In the case of Eleanor Roosevelt, this meant driving through rural Tennessee in the middle of the night while Klansmen hunted her.  She could have died there, and she knew it.  Thank God that she was safe after all!

Which responsibilities does grace require of you?  Which responsibilities will grace demand of you?



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