Archive for the ‘Psalm 119 He’ Tag

Devotion for Saturday Before Proper 18, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

U-Turn

Above:  Diagram of a U-Turn

Image Source = Smurrayinchester

Godly Imagination

SEPTEMBER 5, 2020

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The Collect:

O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy.

Without your help, we mortals will fail;

remove far from us everything that is harmful,

and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 33:1-6

Psalm 119:33-40

Matthew 23:29-36

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The route of transformation–a process which God initiates–is that of turning around.  Ezekiel 33, the beginning of which is an assigned reading for today, makes those two points clearly.  It also states, contrary either to Exodus 34:7 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10 or to interpretations thereof, that individuals are responsible only for their sins; they carry no responsibility for the sins of any of their ancestors.

Regardless of how nice we think we are, we are complicit in sins of society because of our roles in societal institutions.  Our hands might not be as clean as we imagine because others do our dirty work while we are either oblivious or we approve.  I think of that reality when I read Jesus from Matthew 23:36:

Truly I tell you:  this generation will bear the guilt of it all.

The Revised English Bible, 1989

To repent is to turn around and to change one’s mind.  Changing one’s mind is crucial and difficult, for we become accustomed to ways of being and thinking; we are creatures of habit.  I am convinced that more sin flows from lack of imagination than from cartoonish, mustache-twirling perfidy.  Yes, there are malicious people who seek out opportunities to harm others each day, but more negativity results from functional fixedness.  Those of us who are not malicious might not even be able at certain moments to imagine that what God has said ought be (A) is what God has said ought to be or (B) can come to pass, at least any time soon.  Our lack of imagination condemns us and injures others.

How might the world be a better place for more people if more of us had a more highly developed imagination in tune with God?  Many of us, in the words of Psalm 119:35 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979), pray:

Make me go in the path of your commandments,

for that is my desire.

How many of us, however, have the imagination to recognize that route?  May we see then follow it to the end, by grace and free will, itself a result of grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Bloga Theologica version

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 18, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Corinth

Above:  Ruins of Ancient Corinth, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-07406

Hope for Transformation

SEPTEMBER 3 and 4, 2020

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The Collect:

O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy.

Without your help, we mortals will fail;

remove far from us everything that is harmful,

and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 24:1-14 (Thursday)

Ezekiel 24:15-27 (Friday)

Psalm 119:33-40 (Both Days)

2 Corinthians 12:11-21 (Thursday)

Romans 10:15b-21 (Friday)

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Turn away the reporach which I dread,

because your judgments are good.

Behold, I long for your commandmetns;

in your righteousness preserve my life.

–Psalm 119:39-40, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The assigned readings from Ezekiel are quite vivid and disturbing. We read an allegory of divine punishment for human sins, such as economic injustice, judicial corruption, and the exploitation of human beings, and the practice of idolatry. And the prophet, as a sign to others, is not even supposed to mourn his wife’s passing. The meaning of this second allegroy is to accept as just the divine punishment and admit complicity in evil deeds. Then transformation will follow and the next phase will ensue.

The yet-unrealized hope of transformation from a bad situation (often of one’s own creation, at least partially) occupies the readings from Romans and 2 Cornithians. God had been stretching out divine hands to

a disobedient and defiant people

–Romans 10:20, The Revised English Bible (1989)

and the Corinthian church had continued to be a troublesome congregation in the lessons, but St. Paul the Apostle persisted in hope of transformation.

May we refrain from abandoning that hope in relation to others and ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Bloga Theologica version

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Week of Proper 7: Wednesday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  King Josiah

The Inevitable is Still Inevitable

JUNE 24, 2020

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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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2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Then the high priest Hilkiah said to the scribe Shaphan,

I have found the scroll of the Teaching in the House of the LORD.

And Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, who read it.  The scribe Shaphan then went to the king and reported to the king:

Your servants have melted down the silver that was deposited in the House, and they have delivered it to the overseers of the work who are in charge at the House of the LORD.

The scribe also told the king,

The high priest Hilkiah has given me a scroll;

and Shaphan read it to the king.

When the king heard the words of the scroll of the Teaching, he rent his clothes.  And the king gave orders to the priest Hilkiah, and to Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Michaiah, the scribe Shaphan, and Asaiah the king’s minister:

Go, inquire of the LORD on my behalf, and on behalf of the people, and on behalf of all Judah, concerning the words of this scroll that has been found.  For great indeed must be the wrath of the LORD that has been kindled against us, because our fathers did not obey the words of this scroll to do all that has been prescribed for us.

At the king’s summons, all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem assembled before him.  The king went up to the House of the LORD, together with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and prophets–all the people, young and old.  And he read to them the entire text of the covenant scroll which had been found in the House of the LORD.  The king stood by the pillar and solemnized the covenant before the LORD; that they would follow the LORD and observe His commandments, His injunctions, and His laws with all their heart and soul; that they would fulfill all the terms of this covenant as inscribed upon the scroll.  And all the people entered into the covenant.

Psalm 119:33-40 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,

and I shall keep it to the end.

34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law;

I shall keep it with all my heart.

35 Make me go in the path of your commandments,

for that is my desire.

36 Incline my heart to your decrees

and not to unjust gain.

37 Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless;

give me life in your ways.

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,

which you make to those who fear you.

39 Turn away the reproach which I dread,

because your judgments are good.

40 Behold, I long for your commandments;

in your righteousness preserve my life.

Matthew 7:15-20 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you disguised as sheep but are ravenous wolves underneath.  You can tell them by their fruit.  Do people pick grapes off thorns, or figs off thistles?  Just so any sound tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears bad fruit.  No sound tree can bear bad fruit, and no poor tree can bear good fruit.  Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and burned.  So you can tell them by their fruit.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; 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 7:  Wednesday,  Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/week-of-proper-7-wednesday-year-1/

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Since our last reading in 2 Kings…

God healed the dying Hezekiah.  Isaiah predicted the Babylonian Exile/Captivity.  Hezekiah died eventually.

Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, succeeded him as king.  The years of Manasseh’s reign (55 years) are uncertain; The Jewish Study Bible lists his regnal dates as 698/687-632 B.C.E.)  The text explains that Manasseh displeased God.   It reads in part:

…he erected altars for Baal and made a sacred post, as King Ahab of Israel had done.  (21:3)

Manasseh also rebuilt the altars and shrines which his father had destroyed.

Moreover, Manasseh put so many innocent persons to death that he filled Jerusalem [with blood] from end to end–besides the sin he committed in causing Judah to do what was displeasing to the LORD.  (21:16)

Amon, Manasseh’s son, reigned for two years (641-640 B.C.E.).  The text says that he forsook God and that courtiers assassinated them.  The assassins died shortly thereafter.

Then Josiah succeeded his father and began a 31-year reign (640-609 B.C.E.).  Of Josiah the text says:

He did what was pleasing to the LORD and he followed all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not deviate to the right or to the left.  (22:2)

Josiah ordered a renovation of the Temple.  During that process people found a scroll containing part or all of Deuteronomy.

That catches us up.

We read after the assigned lessons from 2 Kings that Josiah extended the life of his kingdom yet could not prevent the collapse of the nation.

The tone of 2 Kings is generally somber.  The kingdoms will fall; the observant reader knows this.  So one treads through much grim material while the narrator’s voice repeats warnings against committing idolatry.  Then there are bright spots, such as the reign of Josiah of Judah, who postponed the destruction of his kingdom without being able to prevent it.  And what happened to this monarch whom the narrator admired?  The Pharaoh Neco slew him in battle (2 Kings 23:29).

It is almost too much to bear.  The gloom and doom gather, people continue to sin, and a bad fate awaits a good king.  Unfortunately, the events get worse after the death of Josiah.

As we proceed toward the inevitable end of the Kingdom of Judah, may we remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  There is life after conquest, and there is a return from this exile.  Hope need not die.  But that depends greatly on the attitudes upon which we act.

KRT

Proper 18, Year A   28 comments

Above: The Israelites Leaving Egypt, by David Roberts (1828)

Image in the Public Domain

Of Sin and Repentance

The Sunday Closest to September 7

The Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 6, 2020

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Exodus 12:1-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:

This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Psalm 149 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.

2 Let Israel rejoice in his Maker;

let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

3 Let them praise his Name in the dance;

let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.

4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people

and adorns the poor with victory.

5 Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;

let them be joyful on their beds.

6 Let the praises of God be in their throat

and a two-edged sword in their hand;

7 To wreak vengeance on the nations

and punishment on the peoples;

8 To bind their kings in chains

and their nobles with links of iron;

9 To inflict on them the judgment decreed;

this is the glory for all his faithful people.

Hallelujah!

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Ezekiel 33:7-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

You, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Psalm 119:33-40 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,

and I shall keep it to the end.

34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law;

I shall keep it with all my heart.

35 Make me go in the path of your commandments,

for that is my desire.

36 Incline my heart to your decrees

and not to unjust gain.

37 Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless;

give me life in your ways.

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,

which you make to those who fear you.

39 Turn away the reproach which I dread,

because your judgments are good.

40 Behold, I long for your commandments;

in your righteousness preserve my life.

SECOND READING

Romans 13:8-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments,

You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet;

and any other commandment, are summed up in this word,

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 18:15-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; 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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This Sunday’s readings pertain to sin, especially with in a faith community.  The community context is appropriate, for however appealing Western notions of individualism, especially when paired with Horatio Alger-like stories, are, people tend to overestimate them.  In reality, all of us live in community, for what one person does or does not do affects another and others directly and/or indirectly, for good or for ill.  We rise together and we fall together; we need to support each other for the common good.  The economic debacle arising from subprime mortgages has taught many lessons, including that one.

Sometimes we need deliverance from the sins of others.  That was the function of the blood of a Passover lamb in Exodus.  And the reading from Matthew discusses how to handle grievances among members of a faith community.  The offender receives more than one chance to restore peace before facing the penalty, which is ecclesiastical exile.  The common good is the chief end, with attempts to rehabilitate the offending party.

And sometimes the sin is one’s own.  Fortunately, God is present, offering forgiveness in exchange for repentance, that is the act of changing one’s mind, or, to state the matter differently, turning around.  Repentance is far more than apologizing, although nobody ought to underestimate the value of a sincere apology.  No, repentance is active.  And we humans ought to welcome repentance at least as much as God does.

Dare we try it?

KRT

Proper 2, Year A   12 comments

Above: Sermon on the Mount

Everyone’s Vocation = To Grow Into One’s Full Spiritual Stature

The Sunday Closest to May 18

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

Speak to all the congregations of the people of Israel and say to them:  You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  You shall not strip  your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien:  I am the LORD your God.

You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another.  And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God:  I am the LORD.

You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning.  You shall not revile  the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God:  I am the LORD.

You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great; with justice you shall judge your neighbor.  You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor:  I am the LORD.

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall not reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.  You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself:  I am the LORD.

Psalm 119:33-40 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,

and I shall keep it to the end.

34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law;

I shall keep it with all my heart.

35 Make me go in the path of your commandments,

for that is my desire.

36 Incline my heart to your decrees

and not to unjust gain.

37 Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless;

give me life in your ways.

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,

which you make to those who fear you.

39 Turn away the reproach which I dread,

because your judgments are good.

40 Behold, I long for your commandments;

in your righteousness preserve my life.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 (New Revised Standard Version):

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and some one else is building on it.  Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroy’s God’s temple, God will destroy that person.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Do not deceive yourselves.  If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written,

He catches the wise in their craftiness,

and again,

The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,

that they are futile.

So let no one boast about human leaders.  For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Matthew 5:38-48 (New Revised Standard Version):

[Jesus continued,]

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer.  But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.  Give to you everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness keep us, we pray, from all things that may hurt us, that we, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with free hearts those things which belong to your purpose; 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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Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  The word “perfect” catches my attention immediately.  And I make the connection with Leviticus:  “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”  These two passages form the axis on which this devotional turns.

I being with “perfect.”  The Greek word here is teleios, which means to grow into one’s full stature, or to be fit for sacrifice.  So a perfect person, by this standard, fulfills his or her God-defined purpose.

Holiness/perfection is functional, not abstract.  Reread the verses in Matthew preceding the command to be perfect.  They contain precise instructions, including the following:

  1. Control your anger. (5:21-26)
  2. Control your lust.  (5:27-30)
  3. Care for your spouse, if you have one. More broadly speaking, do not expose anyone to economic risk needlessly.  (5:31-32)
  4. Do not play semantic games with oaths. (5:33-37)
  5. Do not take revenge.  (5:38-42)
  6. Love your neighbors and your enemies.  (5:43-47)

The list continues with material from the next chapter, but I leave that for you, O reader, to examine.

Meanwhile, Leviticus 19 is a catalog of Mosaic holiness.  We read part of it today, but the elements not quoted are perhaps more interesting.  There are laws also about shaving facial hair, consulting mediums and sorcerers, behaving properly around one’s elders, not sowing two kinds of seed in one field, not pushing one’s daughter into prostitution, et cetera.  My favorite, however, is this one from verses 33 and 34:

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the LORD your God.

This is timeless and still provocative.

My proposed composite of today’s readings is thus:  The wisdom of God operates on a different level than does human wisdom.  Divine wisdom entails loving one’s enemies and choosing not to take revenge.  It means caring more for others, especially the poor, the marginalized, and the different, than for oneself.  The wisdom of God teaches honesty and integrity.  Divine wisdom says to treat others with respect.  To repeat a cliche, we cannot love God, whom we cannot see, unless we love people, whom we can see.  Whatever else God wants us to do, God commands us to do these things.  That is holiness.  That is the purpose for which God has created us, and therein we find our full spiritual stature.

Hear what God is saying to the Church and to all human societies.

KRT