Archive for September 2011

Week of Proper 12: Saturday, Year 2   4 comments

Above: The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, by Caravaggio, 1608

Risks of Prophesy

AUGUST 4, 2018

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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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Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The priests and prophets said to the officials and to all the people,

This man deserves the death penalty, for he has prophesied against this city, as you yourselves have heard.

Jeremiah said to the officials and to all the people,

It was the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this House and this city all the words you heard.  Therefore mend your ways and your acts, and heed the LORD your God, that the LORD may renounce the punishment He has decreed for you.  As for me, I am in your hands:  do to me what seems good and right to you.  But know that if you put me to death, you and this city and its inhabitants will be guilty of shedding the blood of an innocent man.  For in truth the LORD has sent me to you, to speak all these words to you.

Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and prophets,

This man does not deserve the death penalty, for he spoke to us in the name of the LORD our God.

However, Ahikam son of Shapan protected Jeremiah, so that he was not handed over to the people for execution.

Psalm 140:1-5 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Deliver me, O LORD, from evildoers;

protect me from the violent,

2  Who devise evil in their hearts

and stir up strife all day long.

3  They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent;

adder’s poison is under their lips.

4  Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked;

protect me from the violent,

who are determined to trip me up.

5  The proud have hidden a snare for me

and stretched out a net of cords;

they have set traps for me along the path.

Matthew 14:1-13 (J. B. Phillips, 1972)

About this time Herod, governor of the province, heard the reports about Jesus and said to his men,

This must be John the Baptist:  he has risen from the dead.  That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.

For previously Herod had arrested John and had him bound and put in prison, all on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.  For John had said to him,

It is not right for you to have this woman.

Herod wanted to kill him for this, but he was afraid of the people, since they all thought John was a prophet.  But during Herod’s birthday celebrations Herodias’ daughter delighted him by dancing before his guests, so much that he swore to give her anything she liked to ask.  And she, prompted by her mother, said,

I want you to give me, here and now, on a dish, the head of John the Baptist!

Herod was appalled at this, but because he had sworn in front of his guests, he gave orders that she should be given what she had asked.  So he sent men and had John beheaded in the prison.  Then his head was carried in on a dish and presented to the young girl who handed it to her mother.  Later, John’s disciples came, took his body and buried it.  Then they went and told the news to Jesus.  When he heard it he went away by boat to a deserted place, quite alone.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 12:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/week-of-proper-12-saturday-year-1/

Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (August 29):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist-martyr-august-29/

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Jeremiah was just one prophet proclaiming the word of YHWH.  Another one was Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim, who, like Jeremiah, faced the possibility of execution.  Uriah had fled to Egypt, but officials of King Jehoiakim had brought him back, killed him, and thrown his body into “the burial place of the common people” (26:23).  Yet Jeremiah lived, thanks to protection from Ahikam, son of King Josiah’s scribe, Shaphan.

Saint John the Baptist had condemned Herod Antipas, a client ruler for the Roman Empire, for entering into an incestuous marriage.  Antipas, a man of bad character, allowed the execution of John rather than lose face.  Contrast this behavior with Old Testament depictions of God as one who prefers mercy to an inexorable pronouncement of judgment.

Saint John the Baptist lacked a human protector, but one such person saved Jeremiah’s life.  May we, if opportunity presents itself, save the prophets among us, or at least refuse to be silent when we can speak up for them.

KRT

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Week of Proper 12: Friday, Year 2   2 comments

Above:  Jeremiah

Prophets, True and False

AUGUST 3, 2018

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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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Jeremiah 26:1-9 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

At the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came from the LORD:

Thus said the LORD:  Stand in the court of the House of the LORD, and speak to [the men of] all the towns of Judah, who are coming to worship in the House of the LORD, all the words which I command you to speak to them.  Do not omit anything.  Perhaps they will listen and turn back, each from his evil way, that I may renounce the punishment I am planning to bring upon  them for their wicked acts.

Say to them:  Thus said the LORD:  If you do not obey Me, abiding by the Teaching that I have set before you, heeding the words of My servants the prophets whom I have been sending to you persistently–but you have not heeded–then I will make this House like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.

The priests and prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the House of the LORD.  And when Jeremiah finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, shouting,

You shall die!  How dare you prophesy in the name of the LORD that this House shall become like Shiloh and this city be made desolate, without inhabitants?

And all the people crowded about Jeremiah in the House of the LORD.

Psalm 70 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Be pleased, O God, to deliver me;

O LORD, make haste to help me.

2  Let those who seek my life be ashamed

and altogether dismayed;

let those who take pleasure in my misfortune

draw back and be disgraced.

3  Let those who say to me “Aha!” and gloat over me turn back,

because they are ashamed.

4  Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

let those who love your salvation say to for ever,

“Great is the LORD!”

5  But as for me, I am poor and needy;

come to me speedily, O God.

6  You are my helper and my deliverer;

O LORD, do not tarry.

Matthew 13:53-58 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left the place, and came into his own country.  Here he taught the people in their own synagogue, till in their amazement they said,

Where does this man get this wisdom and these powers?  He’s only the carpenter’s son.  Isn’t Mary his mother, and aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers?   And aren’t all his sisters living here with us?  Where did he get all this?

And they were deeply offended with him.

But Jesus said to them,

No prophet goes unhonoured except in his own country and in his own home!

And he performed very few miracles there because of their lack of faith.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 12:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/week-of-proper-12-friday-year-1/

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This day’s reading from Jeremiah requires some background for understanding.  King Jehoiakim was a puppet king installed by the Pharaoh of Egypt.  Jehoiakim also served the Babylonian king before rebelling against Babylonia.  The Kingdom of Judah fell to Babylonia twelve years after he died.  So, at the time of the events of Jeremiah 26, the Kingdom of Judah was on its last legs.  So, when Jeremiah proclaimed impending boom and destruction, he was both accurate and unpopular.  Time, however, has vindicated the prophet.

Over time many prophets have called their cultures and societies to proper reform or revolution.  There have also been false prophets, who have called their cultures and societies to forms of tyranny in the name of God.  Theocrats have been chief among them.  Those who have favored discrimination in the name of God have not taught righteousness, in so far as they denied human equality.  May we heed the words of the true prophets and not those of false prophets.

KRT

Week of Proper 12: Thursday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:   Pottery

Image Source = Derek Jensen

God, the Potter

AUGUST 2, 2018

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Jeremiah 18:1-6 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

Go down to the house of a potter, and there I will impart My words to you.

So I went down to the house of a potter, and found him working at a wheel.  And if the vessel he was making was spoiled, as happens to clay in the potter’s hands, he would make it into another vessel, such as the potter saw fit to make.

Then the word of the LORD came to me:

O House of Israel, can I not deal with you like this potter?

–says the LORD.

Just like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in My hands, O House of Israel!

Psalm 146:1-5 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

I will praise the LORD as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth,

for there is not help in them.

When they breathe their last, they return to earth,

and in that day their thoughts perish.

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!

whose hope is in the LORD their God;

Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;

who keeps his promise for ever.

Matthew 13:47-53 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

[Jesus continued,]

Or the kingdom of Heaven is like a big net thrown into the sea collecting all kinds of fish.  When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore and sit down and pick out the good ones for the barrels, but they throw away the bad.  This is how it will be at the end of this world.  The angels will go out and pick out the wicked from among the good and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be tears and bitter regret.

Have you grasped all this?

They replied,

Yes.

Jesus returned,

You can see, then, how everyone who knows the Law and becomes a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who can produce from his store both the new and the old.

When Jesus had finished these parables he left the place, and came into his own country.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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 A Related Post:

Week of Proper 12:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/week-of-proper-12-thursday-year-1/

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Here we have another analogy for God:  the potter.  Or, as the note in The Jewish Study Bible says,

God is the master craftsman while Israel is the inanimate clay!  (page 963)

If Israel (in this case, Judah, had repented–turned around or changed its mind–the potter would have remolded it, made something new out of the raw materials.  Yet none of that happened in time to prevent the fall of Judah.  That is the message of God and Jeremiah in this passage.

When we turn to Matthew 13:47-53, we read about the value of both the old and the new.  We (plural and singular) come to God with some background.  This background is not entirely worthless.  Even the worst, basest past can provide useful lessons.  Yet we must move forward, retaining the best of the old while adding the new which is worthwhile.

The union of these two passages tells us that, if we allow God to mold us, retaining that which is meritorious and adding the necessary new elements, we will, by grace, become something wonderful and suited for the service of God.  This is not Jesus-and-Meism, for we exist to be good salt and bright light for the common god and the glory of good.  Through good and righteous people a reformation of society can occur.  It has occurred more than once.  For example, racism (at least its explicit forms) used to be publicly acceptable.  People used to send postcards depicting lynchings through the U.S. mail.  Once upon a time, the suggestion that people, regardless of skin pigmentation, ought to be social and legal equals, met with widespread disapproval.  Interracial marriages were illegal in many U.S. states until the late 1960s.  Yet, in 2011, the situation has changed greatly, racism carries a severe stigma, and many racists feel compelled to resort to code speech.

And, when prevailing social attitudes change, so do the factors which shape the attitudes of the young.  For example, those who grow up in a society where unapologetic racism prevails are likely to think differently than do those raised to accept racial equality.  So yes, a person can make an important difference.

I wonder what will happen next, which old biases will fall away properly, only for love and equality to replace them.  Time will tell.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/god-the-potter/

Week of Proper 12: Wednesday, Year 2   Leave a comment

Above:  Fists

Complaining Against God

AUGUST 1, 2018

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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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Jeremiah 15:10, 15-21 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

(Jeremiah speaking)

Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me–

A man of conflict and strife with all the land!

I have not lent,

And I have not borrowed;

Yet everyone curses me.

O LORD, you know–

Remember me and take thought of me,

Avenge me on those who persecute me;

Do not yield to Your patience,

Do not let me perish!

Consider how I have borne insult

On Your account.

When Your words were offered, I devoured them;

Your words were offered, I devoured them;

Your word brought me the delight and joy

Of knowing that Your name is attached to me,

O LORD, God of Hosts.

I have not sat in the company of revelers

And made merry!

I have sat lonely because of Your hand upon me,

For You have filled me with gloom.

Why must my pain be endless,

My wound incurable,

Resistant to healing?

You have been to me like a spring that fails,

Like waters that cannot be relied on.

Assuredly, thus said the LORD:

If you turn back, I shall take you back

And you shall stand before Me;

If you produce what is noble

Out of the worthless,

You shall be My spokesman.

They shall come back to you

As a fortified wall of bronze:

They shall attack you

But they shall not overcome you,

For I am with you to deliver and save you

–declares the LORD.

I will save you from the hands of the wicked

And rescue you from the clutches of the violent.

Psalm 59:1-4, 18-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Rescue me from my enemies, O God;

protect me from those who rise up against me.

2  Rescue me from evildoers

and save me from those who thirst for my blood.

3  See how they lie in wait for my life,

how the mighty gather together against me;

not for any offense or fault of mine, O LORD.

4  Not because of any guilt of mine

they run and prepare themselves for battle.

18  For my part, I will sing of your strength;

I will celebrate your love in the morning;

19  For you have become my stronghold,

a refuge in the day of my trouble.

20  To you, O my Strength, will I sing;

for you, O God, are my stronghold and my merciful God.

Matthew 13:44-46 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

[Jesus continued,]

Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like some treasure which has been buried in a field.  A man finds it and buries it again, and goes off overjoyed to sell all his possessions to buy himself that field.

Or again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he has found a single pearl of great value, he goes and sells all his possessions and buys it.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 12:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-wednesday-year-1/

A Prayer for Those Who Have Harmed Us:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/a-prayer-for-those-who-have-harmed-us/

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Jeremiah had a difficult vocation.  He delivered the bad news God had told him to utter.  For his trouble the prophet faced not only rampant unpopularity but persecution.  So here we find him in Chapter 15, at a breaking point.  Is this self-pity, for which he needs to repent, or is it a legitimate complaint?  Many Bible commentaries argues the former, but I side with the latter.  There is nothing wrong with demanding answers from God when one deserves them.  There is no error in shaking one’s fist at God and screaming, “Why!?!”  If the relationship is troubled, at least it exists.

Some, out of piety (surely a good motive), have stated that one ought not to argue with God.  Submit to God passively, they claim.  But the Old Testament contains stories of people who struggled with God and emerged stronger spiritually.  Consider Israel and Job, for example.  God was with them before, during, and after their struggles.  And God was with Jeremiah after the prophet’s complaint.

Did Jeremiah come dangerously close to committing blasphemy?  Some think so.  May we take a useful lesson away from the reading from Jeremiah 15:  Be honest, but do not commit blasphemy or come close to doing so.

KRT

Week of Proper 12: Tuesday, Year 2   Leave a comment

Above:  Jeremiah, from the Sistine Chapel Paintings by Michelangelo Buonarroti

What We Need to Hear

JULY 31, 2018

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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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Jeremiah 14:17-22 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

And do you speak to them thus:

Let my eyes run with tears,

Day and night let them not cease,

for my hapless people has suffered

A grievous injury, a very painful wound.

If I go out to the country–

Lo, the slain of the sword.

If I enter the city–

Lo, those who are sick with famine.

Both priest and prophet roam the land,

They know not where.

Have You, then, rejected Judah?

Have You spurned Zion?

Why have you smitten us

So that there we hope for happiness,

But find no good;

For a time of healing,

And meet terror instead?

We acknowledge our wickedness, O LORD–

The iniquity of our fathers–

For we have sinned against You.

For Your name’s sake, do not disown us;

Do not dishonor Your glorious throne.

Remember, do not annul Your covenant with us.

Can any of the false gods of the nations give rain?

Can the skies of themselves give showers?

So we hope in You,

For only You made all these things.

Psalm 79:17-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name;

deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name’s sake.

10 Why should the heathen say, “Where is their God?”

Let it be known among the heathen and in our sight

that you avenge the shedding of your servant’s blood.

11 Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you,

and by your great might spare those who are condemned to die.

12 May the revilings with which they reviled you, O Lord,

return seven-fold into their bosoms.

13 For we are your people and the sheep of your pasture;

we will give you thanks for ever

and show forth your praise from age to age.

Matthew 13:36-43 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

Later, he left the crowds and went indoors, where his disciples came and said,

Please explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.

Jesus replied,

The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the whole world.  The good seed?  That is the sons of the kingdom, while the weeds are sons of the evil one of this world.  The enemy who sowed them is the devil.  The harvest is the end of this world.  The reapers are angels.

Just as weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire so will it happen at the end of the world.  The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will uproot from the kingdom everything that is spoiling it, and all those who live in defiance of its laws, and will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be tears and bitter regret.  Then the good will shine out like the sun in their Father’s kingdom.  The man who has ears should use them!

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 12:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-tuesday-year-1/

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Jeremiah prophesied in the context of many false prophets who claimed that the Babylonians would not conquer Judah.  Maybe they quoted the Book of Isaiah and interpreted the defeat of the Assyrians as the fulfillment of certain prophesies.  Maybe they understood the Book of Isaiah in that way; perhaps they interpreted it so in public while being insincere.  Regardless of their motivations, however, they were mistaken, as history tells us.

There is a basic psychological explanation for people’s preference for the false prophets instead of Jeremiah:  Good news is more appealing than bad news.  Yet sometimes the bearers of bad news tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.  By grace, may we distinguish between genuine good news and false prophesy, between warnings we ought to heed and unreliable cries that the sky is falling.  The stakes are so high and the costs of making a mistake are severe.

KRT

Week of Proper 12: Monday, Year 2   Leave a comment

Above:  Ancient Linen

“But they would not obey.”

JULY 30, 2018

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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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Jeremiah 13:1-11 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Thus the LORD said to me:

Go buy yourself a loincloth made of linen, and put it around your loins, but do not dip it into water.

So I bought the loincloth in accordance with the LORD’s command, and put it about my loins.  And the word of the LORD came to me a second time:

Take the loincloth, which you bought, which is about your loins, and go at once to Perath and cover it up there in a cleft of the rock.

I went and buried it at Perath, as the LORD had commanded me.  Then, after a long time, the LORD said to me,

Go at once to Perath and take there the loincloth which I commanded you to bury there.

So I went to Perath and dug up the loincloth from the place where I had buried it; and found the loincloth ruined; it was not good for anything.

The word of the LORD came to me:

Thus said the LORD:  Even so will I ruin the overwheening pride of Judah and Jerusalem.  This wicked people who refuse to heed My bidding, who follow the willfulness of their own hearts, who follow other gods and serve them and worship them, shall become like that loincloth, which is not good for anything.  For as the loincloth clings to the loins of a man, so I brought close to Me the whole House of Israel and the whole House of Judah

–declares the LORD–

that they might be My people, for fame, and praise, and splendor.  But they would not obey.

Psalm 95 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Come, let us sing to the LORD;

let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving

and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

3 For the LORD is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the caverns of the earth,

and the heights of the hills are his also.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee,

and kneel before the LORD our Maker.

7 For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

8 Harden not your hearts,

as your forebears did in the wilderness,

at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,

when they tempted me.

They put me to the test,

though they had seen my works.

10 Forty years long I detested that generation and said,

“This people are wayward in their hearts;

they do not know my ways.”

11 So I swore in my wrath,

“They shall not enter into my rest.”

Matthew 13:31-35 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

Then he put another parable before them,

The kingdom of Heaven is like a tiny grain of mustard-seed which a man took and sowed in his field.   As a seed it is the smallest of them all, but it grows to be the biggest of all plants.  It becomes a tree, big enough for birds to come and nest in its branches.

This is another of the parables he told them:

The kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, taken by a woman and put into three measures of flour until the whole had risen.

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowd in parables, and he did not speak to them at all without using parables–to fulfil the prophecy:

I will open my mouth in parables;

I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 12:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/week-of-proper-12-monday-year-1/

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Jeremiah was a priest, so he wore a uniform.  His wardrobe consisted entirely of linens, down to his loincloth.  This manner of dress signified his Levitical purity, especially given the fact that these garments had to be clean.  This context is crucial to an accurate understanding of the symbolic act in Jeremiah 13:1-11.  Judah had lost its purity by committing idolatry and practicing and condoning rampant social injustice, especially that of the economic sort.  So the people were like a dirty, worthless loincloth.  This was not not God’s plan, but “they would not obey.”

I am of an age such that I understand an old cliche:  “He sounds like a broken record.”  The Monday-Saturday lectionary I have been following has been taking me on a grand tour through the writings of and attributed to prophets.  Along the way I have read of certain themes again and again.  Among the practices the prophets decried was disobedience to God, usually via idolatry, economic injustice, and judicial corruption.  These are old themes which remain current today; just follow the news closely.

If I write much more, I will sound even more like a broken record than I do already.  So I leave you, O reader, with two thoughts:

  1. The message of the reading from Jeremiah speaks for itself.
  2. God still objects strenuously to idolatry, economic injustice, and judicial corruption.

KRT

Proper 12, Year B   18 comments

Above:  The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

Christ, Our Passover

The Sunday Closest to July 27

The Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 29, 2018

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 11:1-17 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

(In Chapters 8-10, David fights wars and shows kindness to Jonathan’s son.)

In the spring of the year, the time when the kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah.  But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  And David sent and inquired about the woman.  And one said,

Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

So David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her.  (Now she was purifying herself form her uncleanness.)  Then she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David,

I am with child.

So David sent word to Joab.

Send me Uriah the Hittite.

When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered.  Then David said to Uriah,

Go down to your house, and wash your feet.

And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king.  But Uriah slept  at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.  When they told David,

Uriah did not go down to his house,

David said to Uriah,

Have you not come from a journey?  Why did you not go down to your house?

Uriah said to David,

The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife?  As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.

Then David said to Uriah,

Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.

So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day, and the next.  And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but did not go down to his house.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  In the letter he wrote,

Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.

And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men.  And men of the city came out and fought with Joab; and some of the servants of David among the people fell.  Uriah the Hittite was slain also.

Psalm 14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

All are corrupt and commit abominable acts;

there is none who does any good.

2  The LORD looks down from heaven upon us al,

to see if there is any who is wise,

if there is one who seeks after God.

3  Every one has proved faithless;

all alike have turned bad;

there is none who does good; no, not one.

4  Have they no knowledge, all those evildoers

who eat up my people like bread

and do not call upon the LORD?

5  See how they tremble with fear,

because God is in the company of the righteous.

6  Their aim is to confound the plans of the afflicted,

but the LORD is their refuge.

7  Oh, that Israel’s deliverance would come out of Zion!

When the LORD restored the fortunes of his people,

Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

2 Kings 4:42-44 (New Revised Standard Version):

A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said,

Give it to the people and let them eat.

But his servant said,

How can I set this before a hundred people?

So he repeated,

Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the LORD, “They shall eat and have some left.”

He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

Psalm 145:10-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

10 All your works praise you, O LORD,

and all your faithful servants bless you.

11 They make known the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your power;

12 That the peoples may know of your power

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;

your dominion endures throughout all ages.

14 The LORD is faithful in all his words

and merciful in all his deeds.

15 The LORD upholds all those who fall;

he lifts up those who are bowed down.

16 The eyes of all wait upon you, O LORD,

and you give them their food in due season.

17 You open wide your hand

and satisfy the needs of every living creature.

18 The LORD is righteous in all his ways

and loving in all his works.

19 The LORD is near to those who call upon him,

to all who call upon him faithfully.

SECOND READING

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

GOSPEL READING

John 6:1-21 (Anchor Bible):

Later on Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee [to the shore] of Tiberias, but a large crowd kept following him because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.  So Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.  The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

When Jesus looked up, he caught sight of a large crowd coming toward him; so he said to Philip,

Where shall we ever buy bread for these people to eat?

(Actually, of course, he was perfectly aware of what he was going to do, but he asked this to test Philip’s reaction.)  He replied,

Not even with two hundred days’ wages could we buy enough loaves to give each of them a mouthful.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, remarked to him.

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish, but what good is that for so many?

Jesus said,

Get the people to sit down.

Now the men numbered about five thousand, but there was plenty of grass there for them to find a seat.  Jesus then took the loaves of bread, gave thanks, and passed them around to those sitting there; and he did the same with the dried fish–just as much as they wanted.  When they had enough, he told his disciples,

Gather up the fragments that are left over so that nothing will perish.

And so they gathered twelve baskets full of fragments left over by those who had been fed with the five barley loaves.

Now when the people saw the sign[s] he had performed, they began to say,

This in undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world.

With that Jesus realized that they would come and carry him off to make him king, so he fled back to the mountain alone.

As evening drew on, his [Jesus’] disciples came down to the sea.  Having embarked, they were trying to cross the sea to Capernaum.  By this time it was dark, and still Jesus had not joined them; moreover, with a strong wind blowing, the sea was becoming rough.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they sighted Jesus walking upon the sea, approaching the boat.  They were frightened, but he told them,

It is I; do not be afraid.

So they wanted to take him into the boat, and suddenly the boat reached the shore toward which they had been going.

The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 12, Year A:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/proper-12-year-a/

Break Thou the Bread of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/break-thou-the-bread-of-life/

2 Samuel 11:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/week-of-3-epiphany-friday-year-2/

John 6:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirteenth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fourteenth-day-of-easter/

Matthew 14 (Parallel to John 6):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/proper-13-year-a/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/week-of-proper-13-monday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/proper-14-year-a/

Mark 6 (Parallel to John 6):

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-day-of-epiphany/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-4-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/proper-11-year-b/

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Only one miracle story occurs on all four canonical Gospels.  That is the feeding of the Five Thousand, with slight variations.  Were there, for example, five thousand men (as Mark and Luke record the miracle), five thousand people (as John indicates), or five thousand men plus an uncounted number of women and children (as Matthew says)?  All that is beside the point, for the accounts describe a staggering act of divine power and mercy.

Afterward, in John’s Gospel, the astonished crowd recognizes Jesus as a political messiah, so he and the Apostles leave the area.  This (in the Johannine Gospel) sets the stage for Jesus walking on water, much to the astonishment of his Apostles.  There is an accompanying storm for Jesus to calm in the Matthew and Mark accounts, but not here.  Rather, the Johannine account emphasizes that Jesus is the incarnate I AM, not a political messiah.

Before I proceed further, I must acknowledge that I am drawing heavily from Father Raymond E. Brown’s Anchor Bible commentary on the Gospel of John.  His depth of knowledge and extreme attention to details (He gets to John 6 on page 231 of Volume I.) are staggering.  I can feast on this material for a long time to come.

Back to the Gospel of John….

There are obvious Eucharistic overtones in the Johannine account of the mass feeding.  But how should we understand the walking on water?  Brown, citing other sources, suggests a Passover image.  Think about it:  In both the Book of Exodus and in John 6 we find a water passage and the presence of unexpected food in close proximity to each other.  And, in John, there is an explicit point of profound theology:  JESUS IS THE PASSOVER LAMB.  Thus we find Jesus dying on the cross as the sacrifice of animals occurs at the Temple.  (In the Synoptic Gospels, however, Jesus is crucified on the next day.)  The Last Supper, in the Synoptic Gospels, is a Passover meal.  Yet, in the Johannine Gospel, JESUS IS THE PASSOVER MEAL.  (See John 19:16b following.)

We encounter astounding theology in John 6.  Who do we want Jesus to be, and why might we follow him?  Do we week a national liberator or a Passover lamb?  And what does our expectation indicate about us?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/christ-our-passover/