Archive for the ‘Mark 10’ Tag

Week of 8 Epiphany: Thursday, Year 2   13 comments

Above:  Jesus Healing the Blind Man (circa 1625-1650), by Eustache Le Sueur

Responsibilities

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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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 Peter 2:2-12 (Revised English Bible):

Like the newborn infants you are, you should be craving for pure spiritual milk so that you may thrive on it and be saved; for surely you have tasted that the Lord is good.

So come to him, to the living stone which was rejected by men but chosen by God and of great worth to him.  You also, as living stones, must be built up into a spiritual temple, and form a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For you will find in scripture:

I am laying in Zion a chosen corner-stone of great worth.

Whoever has faith in it will not be put to shame.

So for you who have faith it has great worth; but for those who have no faith

the stone which the builders rejected has become the corner-stone,

and also

a stone to trip over, a rock to stumble against.

They trip because they refuse to believe the word; this is the fate appointed for them.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, a people claimed by God for his own, to proclaim the glorious deeds of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.  Once you were not a people at all; but now you are God’s people.  Once you were outside his mercy; but now you are outside no longer.

Dear friends, I appeal to you, as aliens in a foreign land, to avoid bodily desires which make war on the soul.  Let your conduct among unbelievers be so good that, although they now malign you as wrongdoers, reflection on your good deeds will lead them to give glory to God on the day when he comes in judgement.

Psalm 100 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands;

serve the LORD with gladness

and come before his presence with a song.

Know this:  The LORD himself is God;

he himself has made us, and we are his;

we are the sheep of his pasture.

3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

go into his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and call upon his name.

4 For the LORD is good;

his mercy is everlasting;

and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Mark 10:46-52 (Revised English Bible):

They came to Jericho; and as he was leaving the town, with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was seated at the roadside.  Hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout,

Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me!

Many of the people told him to hold his tongue; but he shouted all the more,

Son of David, have pity on me.

Jesus stopped and said,

Call him;

so they called the blind man:

Take heart,

they said.

Get up; he is calling you.

At that he threw off his cloak, jumped to his feet, and came to Jesus.  Jesus said to him,

What do you want me to do for you?

The blind man answered,

Rabbi, I want my sight back.

Jesus said to him,

Go; your faith as healed you.

At once he recovered his sight and followed him on the road.

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The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 8 Epiphany:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/week-of-8-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

New Every Morning is the Love:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/new-every-morning-is-the-love-by-john-keble/

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1 Peter 2:2-12 reminds us that being among the called of God brings with it responsibilities.  We have a divine calling, one bought at a high price to God and which requires much of us.  The grace is free, not cheap, to us.  And we who claim the label “Christian” are witnesses to and ambassadors of Christ.  How effective are we?  People being as diverse as they are, each of us will, even when we do everything properly (by grace, of course) not attract some people to Jesus, and might even drive some away.  If we are indeed doing everything properly at such a time, the result speaks volumes about the other person or persons, not us.  Not even Jesus had a 100% conversion rate, and he was perfect.

Part of our calling entails being mindful of our behavior.  This includes avoiding hypocrisy.  Over ten years ago, I heard a news story about a minister somewhere in the United States.  He was quite vocal about the evils of gambling for a long time.  Then, one day, somebody caught him gambling at a local casino.  His actions spoke louder than his words, belied them, and brought disgrace upon him and his cause.

Perhaps the most basic behavioral issue is the showing of mercy.  God has shown mercy on us and expects us to extend it to others.  Acting mercifully matters more than winning theological or political arguments, for it is living one’s stated faith.  Consider the story of Jesus, blind Bartimaeus, and the crowd.  If you were a member of the crowd, would you have been more likely to try to silence the blind man or to help him go to Jesus?

Answer the question honestly.  If your answer disturbs you, take that to God in contrition and repentance.

KRT

Week of 8 Epiphany: Wednesday, Year 2   10 comments

Above:  Christ Carrying the Cross, by El Greco

Love and Service, Not Status Seeking

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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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 Peter 1:17-2:1 (Revised English Bible):

If you say “Father” to him who judges everyone impartially on the basis of what they have done, you must live in awe of him during your time on earth.  You know well that it was nothing of passing value, like silver or gold, that bought your freedom from the futility of your traditional ways.  You were set free by Christ’s precious blood, blood like that of a lamb without mark or blemish.  He was predestined before the foundation of the world, but in this last period of time he has been revealed for your sake.  Through him you have come to trust in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, and so your faith and hope are fixed on God.

Now that you have been purified your souls by obedience to the truth until you feel sincere affection towards your fellow-Christians, love one another wholeheartededly with all your strength.  You have been born again, not of mortal but of immortal parentage, through the loving and enduring word of God.  As scripture says:

All mortals are like grass;

all their glory like the flower of the field;

the grass withers, the flower falls;

but the word of the Lord endures for evermore.

And this “word” is the gospel which we preached to you.

Then away with all wickedness and deceit, hypocrisy and jealousy and malicious talk of any kind!

Psalm 147:13-21 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

13  Worship the LORD, O Jerusalem;

praise your God, O Zion;

14  For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;

he has blessed your children within you.

15  He has established peace on your borders;

he satisfies you with the finest wheat.

16  He sends out his command to the earth,

and his word runs very swiftly.

17  He gives snow like wool;

he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.

18  He scatters his hail like bread crumbs;

who can stand against his cold?

19  He sends forth his word and melts them;

he blows with his wind, and the waters flow.

20  He declares his word to Jacob,

his statutes and his judgments to Israel.

21  He has not done so to any other nation;

to them he has not revealed his judgments.

Hallelujah!

Mark 10:32-45 (Revised English Bible):

They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was leading the way; and the disciples were filled with awe, while those who followed behind were afraid.  Once again he took the Twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to him.

We are now going up to Jerusalem,

he said,

and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes; they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles.  He will be mocked and spat upon, and flogged and killed; and three days afterwards, he will rise again.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him and said,

Teacher, we should like you to do us a favour.

He asked,

What is it you want me to do for you?

They answered,

Allow us to sit with you in your glory, one at your right hand and the other at your left.

Jesus said to them,

You do not understand what you are asking.  Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

They answered,

We can.

Jesus said,

The cup that I drink you shall drink, and the baptism that I am baptized with shall be your baptism; but to sit on my right or on my left is not for me to grant; that honour is for those to whom it has already been assigned.

When the other ten heard this, they were indignant with James and John.  Jesus called them to him and said,

You know that among the Gentiles the recognized rulers lord it over their subjects, and the great make their authority felt.  It shall not be so with you; among you whoever wants to be great must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.  For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

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The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of 8 Epiphany:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

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The reading from 1 Peter builds up to a great moral lesson:

Then away with all wickedness and deceit, hypocrisy and jealousy and malicious talk of any kind.

What would U.S. talk radio sound like without malicious talk?  How about the landscape of news channels on cable television?  On a more local level, how much better would relationships and congregational life be without wickedness, deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and malicious talk?

The path of discipleship is one of love and service, not living to argue and gain status.  Every other human being is a person God loves, one for whom Christ our Lord was born, lived, and died.  Every man is my brother, every woman my sister.  It is easy to despise those we do not understand, those from different cultures, those who follow a different religious tradition or none at all, and those with very different politics.  Yet God calls us to love each other as we love ourselves; this applies to everybody.

I need to hear and obey this command at least as much as any other person.  I have had only a handful of enemies, but they have been formidable.  Their actions have wrought havoc in my life. But even they (all men) have been my brothers in God.  By grace, may I think of them as such.  That is the only possible way I can succeed.

KRT

Week of 8 Epiphany: Tuesday, Year 2   12 comments

Above:  The Good Samaritan, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Holiness

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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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 Peter 1:10-16 (Revised English Bible):

This salvation was the subject of intense search by the prophets who prophesied about the grace of God awaiting you.  They tried to find out the time and the circumstances to which the spirit of Christ in them pointed, when it foretold the sufferings in Christ’s cause and the glories to follow.  It was disclosed to them that these matters were not for their benefit but for years.  Now they have been openly announced to you through preachers who brought you the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  These are the things that angels long to glimpse.

Your minds must therefore be stripped for action and fully alert.  Fix your hopes on the grace which is to be yours when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Be obedient to God your Father, and do not let your characters be shaped any longer by the desires you cherished in your days of ignorance.  He who called you is holy; like him, be holy in all your conduct.  Does not scripture say, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”?

Psalm 98 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

With his right hand and his holy arm

has he won for himself the victory.

The LORD has made known his victory;

his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel,

and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

Sing to the LORD with the harp,

with the harp and the voice of song.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn

shout with joy before the King, the LORD.

Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,

the lands and those who dwell therein.

Let the rivers clap their hands,

and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD,

when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

Mark 10:28-31 (Revised English Bible):

What about us?

said Peter.

We have left everything to follow you.

Jesus said,

Truly I tell you:  there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father, or children, or land, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and land–and persecutions besides; and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

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The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 8 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 5 (Related to 1 Peter 1):

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/tenth-day-of-lent/

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For I am the LORD your God; you are to make yourselves holy, because I am holy….I am the LORD who brought you up from Egypt to become your God.  You are to keep yourselves holy, because I am holy.

–Leviticus 11:44a, 45 (Revised English Bible)

We are imperfect beings; God knows this well.  No matter how ardently we strive to walk in the paths of righteousness, love, and metanoia, we will falter from time to time.  God knows this well.  What matters is that we, trusting in divine mercies, try, and, when we stray, return to the path.

As I typed the lesson from 1 Peter, the end of the reading stood out in my mind.  “…be holy in all your conduct,” it reads.  Holiness, in this context, cannot refer to moral perfectionism, for we humans are incapable of moral perfection.  We can, however, strive to be better and more moral, with morality, in my point of view, begin the same as loving God fully, loving one’s self in that context, and loving one’s neighbor as one’s self.  And, by grace, we can succeed more often than we fail.

There is a similar passage in Matthew 5:48.  Instead of holiness, though, the exhortation is one to be perfect, or devoted to the wholehearted service of God.  Another shade of meaning related to “perfection” is being a suitable sacrifice to God.  This is possible by grace.  This is about love, not judgmentalism and pietistic nitpicking.

The Revised English Bible, however, cuts to the chase nicely.  Instead of using the traditional English rendering, to be perfect, for God is perfect, the text says,

There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father’s goodness knows no bounds.

That is a noble ambition, is it not?  That makes one a suitable sacrifice, does it not?  That is wholehearted devotion and service to God, is it not?

Sometimes I have acted in ways I thought were holy, but that were actually judgmental.  I am far from alone in this regard.  I might even be thinking in ways I think are holy but that are really judgmental as I type these words.  This is possible.  If I am to be spiritually honest, I must admit that possibility.  You see, O reader, I have far to go in spiritual matters, and I am not alone in this reality.  So, loving and accepting ourselves and each other, may we flawed human beings strive to do better, to be better, and to love more effectively and actively.  May we support each other in our journeys along the pathways of divine love and forgive ourselves and each other for our faults.  God does.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/holiness/

Week of 8 Epiphany: Monday, Year 2   8 comments

Above:  A Bonfire

Image Source = Fir0002

Stumbling Blocks

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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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 Peter 1:1-9 (Revised English Bible):

From Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ, to the scattered people of God now living as aliens in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen in the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the consecrating work of the Holy Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling with his blood.

Grace and peace to you in fullest measure.

Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, he gave us new birth into a living hope, the hope of an inheritance, reserved in heaven for you, which nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.  Because you put your faith in God, you are under the protection of his power until the salvation now in readiness is revealed at the end of time.

This is cause for great joy, even though for a little while you may have had to suffer trials of many kinds.  Even gold passes through the assayer’s fire, and much more precious than perishable gold is faith which stands the test.  These trials come so that your faith may prove itself worthy of all praise, glory, and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

You have not seen him, yet you love him; and in trusting him now without seeing him, you are filled with a glorious joy too great for words, while you are reaping the harvest of your faith, that is, salvation for your souls.

Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,

in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

2 Great are the deeds of the LORD!

they are studied by all who delight in them.

3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,

and his righteousness endures for ever.

4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

He gives food to those who fear him;

he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works

in giving them the lands of the nations.

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.

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.

Mark 10:17-27 (Revised English Bible):

As he was starting out on a journey, a stranger ran up, and, kneeling before him, asked,

Good Teacher, what must I do to win eternal life?

Jesus said to him,

Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments:  “Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not give false evidence; do not defraud; honour your father and your mother.”

He replied,

But Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a boy.

As Jesus looked at him, his heart warmed to him.

One thing you lack,

he said.

Go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.

At these words his face fell and he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round at his disciples and said to them,

How hard it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!

They were amazed that he should say this, but Jesus insisted.

Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

They were more astonished than ever, and said to one another,

Then who can be saved?

Jesus looked at them and said,

For men it is impossible, but not for God; everything is possible for God.

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The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 8 Epiphany:  Monday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Matthew 19 (Parallel to Mark 10):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-tuesday-year-1/

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Gold.  Sometimes it functions as an analogy of faithfulness.  Yet, at other times, it refers to great wealth, an inappropriate attachment to which constitutes a form of idolatry.

Early Christians were at risk of persecution, usually on the provincial, not empire-wide scale.  Many Christians died, and other suffered so severely (by mutilation and hard labor, often) that the dead were more fortunate; at least their pain had ended.  In this context the author of 1 Peter praised his audience for remaining faithful. These were hearty people; I wonder how I would have stood up under the pressure.  This is a purely counterfactual question, of course, but the answer in my mind makes me uncomfortable.

The wealthy man in the lesson from Mark trusted too much in his money and possessions, which had become spiritual stumbling blocks.  So Jesus told him to remove them, and the man could not bring himself to do it.  Whatever our stumbling blocks may be–wealth, habits, preconceptions, fear of persecution, et cetera, they need to go.  This is a difficult and timeless spiritual truth.

I owe my faith in part to my spiritual forebears who refused to permit any stumbling block, such as fear of persecution, stand in the way.  Now they are part of the Church Triumphant.  Christ was their all; that was enough.  May we–you and I, O reader, have the same attitude and act accordingly.

KRT

Week of 7 Epiphany: Saturday, Year 2   8 comments

Above:  Infant Baptism

Image Source = Tom Adriaenssen

Mutual Responsibility

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

MARCH 1, 2014

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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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James 5:13-20 (Revised English Bible):

Is anyone among you in trouble?  Let him pray.  Is anyone in good heart?  Let him sing praises.  Is one of you ill?  Let him send for the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord; the prayer offered in faith will heal the sick man, the Lord will restore him to health, and if he has committed sins they will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  A good man’s prayer is very powerful and effective.  Elijah was a man just like us; yet when he prayed fervently that there should be no rain, the land had no rain for three and a half years; when he prayed again, the rain poured down and the land bore crops once more.

My friends, if one of you strays from the truth and another succeeds in bringing him back, you may be sure of this:  the one who brings a sinner back from his erring ways will be rescuing a soul from death and cancelling a multitude of sins.

Psalm 34:1-8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

2 I will glory in the LORD;

let the humble hear and rejoice.

3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;

let us exult his Name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me

and delivered me out of all my terror.

5 Look upon him and be radiant,

and let not your faces be ashamed.

6 I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me

and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,

and he will deliver them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;

happy are they who trust in him.

Mark 10:13-16 (Revised English Bible):

They brought children for him to touch.  The disciples rebuked them, but when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them,

Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you:  whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.

And he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

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The Collect:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 7 Epiphany:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/week-of-7-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

Matthew 19 (Parallel to Mark 10):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/week-of-proper-14-saturday-year-1/

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The psalm includes the lines

Taste and see that the LORD is good;

happy are they who trust in him.

I recall watching the funeral of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin on WGN in the late 1990s.  The congregation, led by a priest, sang “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” during the service.  I am sure that, prior to the Cardinal’s death, many people prayed for his healing and recovery.  Yet he died of cancer anyway.  So James has oversimplified a point.

Nevertheless, the readings for this day point toward a timeless truth:  We are all responsible for each other in the church.  God calls us to help each other as possible, especially spiritually.  This ethic is evident is the baptismal rites of The Episcopal Church, my denomination.  Baptism is initiation into the Christian household, not fire insurance.

Much of Western Christianity is overly individualistic, falling into the heresy of Jesus-and-Meism.  I have had discouraging conversations with people who have told me that they do not care what happens to this world or on it, for they are saved, and they will go to Heaven when they die.  They are content to be healthy in a sick system, but Jesus calls us to work toward the healing of the system.  Think about the healing stories involving our Lord; he restored the healed to social wholeness.  Besides, Jesus does not call us to be selfish.  If we do indeed love our neighbors as ourselves, and if we love ourselves properly, as God has us to do, we must care about what happens to the world and on it, what fates befall our neighbors.

This is the ethic of James and Jesus.  It is a wise ethic, one more of us should emulate, for the common good and the glory of God.

KRT

Week of 7 Epiphany: Friday, Year 2   6 comments

Above:  Mercy and Truth

Patience

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

FEBRUARY 28, 2014

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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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James 5:7-12 (Revised English Bible):

You must be patient, my friends, until the Lord comes.  Consider:  the farmer looking for the precious crop from his land can only wait in patience until the early and late rains have fallen.  You too must be patient and stout-hearted, for the coming of the Lord is near.  My friends, do not blame your troubles on one another, or you will fall under judgement; and there at the door stands the Judge.  As a pattern of patience under ill-treatment, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  We count those happy who stood firm.  You have heard how Job stood firm, and you have seen how the Lord treated him in the end, for the Lord is merciful and compassionate.

Above all things, my friends, do not use oaths, whether “by heaven” or “by earth” or by anything else.  When you say “Yes” or “No,” let it be plain Yes or No, for fear you draw down judgement on yourselves.

Psalm 103:1-4, 8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

3 He forgives all your sins,

and heals all your infirmities;

4 He redeems your life from the grave

and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness.

The LORD is full of compassion and mercy,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

He will not always accuse us,

nor will he keep his anger for ever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

11 For as the heavens are as high above the earth,

so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our sins from us.

13 As a father cares for his children,

so does the LORD care for those who fear him.

Mark 10:1-12 (Revised English Bible):

On leaving there he came into the regions of Judaea and Transjordan.  Once again crowds gathered round him, and he taught them as was his practice.  He was asked,

Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

The question was put to test him.  He responded by asking,

What did Moses command you?

They answered,

Moses permitted a man to divorce his wife by a certificate of dismissal.

Jesus said to them,

It was because of your stubbornness that he made this rule for you.  But in the beginning, at the creation “God made them male and female.” ‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother, and is united to his wife, and the two become one flesh.’  It follows that they are no longer two individuals:  they are one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.

When they were indoors again, the disciples questioned him about this.  He said to them,

Whoever divorces his wife and remarries commits adultery against her; so too, if she divorces her husband and remarries, she commits adultery.

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The Collect:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 7 Epiphany:  Friday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/week-of-7-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Matthew 19 (Parallel to Mark 10):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/week-of-proper-14-friday-year-1/

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A common expectation among early Christians was that they would witness the Second Coming of Jesus.  This sense of anticipation informs the reading from James.  History, of course, records, that such expectations did not come true.   Nevertheless, the exhortations to live in faithfulness with one another, to be patient with each other, and to have a stout heart are sage in any situation.

God’s timing is not ours.  When we ask for X, X being something good and noble, perhaps even necessary, we might hope to receive X from God’s hand according to our schedule.  Yet maybe God has something better for us.  Perhaps God will deliver what we have requested, but by a different and unexpected mode.  Stout-hearted faithfulness is a virtue, especially in such circumstances.

As for oaths, many people made meaningless oaths by the earth, the stars, the sky, et cetera.  “Just say yes or no,” James told his audience.  In other words, we ought to avoid semantic games and be genuine.

To review:  If more of us were to avoid semantic games, be merely genuine with each other, be patient with other, and avoid scapegoating each other, how much better would our world and many corners of it be?  I cannot force others to act in these positive ways, but I can, by grace, live accordingly.  And so can you, O reader.  We, you and I, might have more influence than we guess.  Let us find out, for the common good and for the glory of God.

May God, who both judges and forgives, help us.

KRT

Week of 8 Epiphany: Thursday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  Jesus Healing the Blind Man (circa 1625-1650), by Eustache Le Sueur

The Creative Power of Words

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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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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Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 42:15-25 (Revised English Bible):

How shall I call to mind the works of the Lord

and describe what I have seen,

his works which by his word were made.

As everything is illumined by the rays of the sun,

so the works of the Lord are full of his glory.

Even to the angels the Lord has not given the power

to tell the full tale of the marvels

accomplished by the Lord Almighty,

so that the universe may stand firm in his glory.

He fathoms both the abyss and the human heart,

he is versed in their intricacies;

for the Most High possesses all knowledge,

and the signs of the times are under his eye.

He discloses both past and future,

and lays bare the traces of secret things.

No thought escapes his notice,

and not a single word is hidden from him.

He has set in order the masterpieces of his wisdom,

he who is One from eternity to eternity;

nothing is added, nothing taken away,

and he needs none to give him counsel.

How pleasing is all that he has made,

even the smallest spark the eye can see!

His works endure, all of them active for ever

and all responsive to their several functions.

All things go in pairs, one counterpart of the other;

he has made nothing incomplete.

One thing supplements the virtues of another.

Of his glory who can ever see too much?

Psalm 33:1-9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous;

it is good for the just to sing praises.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;

play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.

3 sing for him a new song;

sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

4 For the word of the LORD is right,

and all of his works are sure.

5 He loves righteousness and justice;

the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.

7 He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin

and stores up the depths of the sea.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to pass;

he commanded, and it stood fast.

Mark 10:46-52 (Revised English Bible):

They came to Jericho; and as he was leaving the town, with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was seated at the roadside.  Hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout,

Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me!

Many of the people told him to hold his tongue; but he shouted all the more,

Son of David, have pity on me.

Jesus stopped and said,

Call him;

so they called the blind man:

Take heart;

they said.

Get up; he is calling you.

At that he threw off his cloak, jumped to his feet, and came to Jesus.  Jesus said to him,

What do you want me to do for you?

The blind man answered,

Rabbi, I want my sight back.

Jesus said to him,

Go; your faith as healed you.

At once he recovered his sight and followed him on the road.

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The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

The old saying I have quoted above is a lie.  Many of us know this from experience, do we not?  My point is this:  words have the power to create a new reality.

According the Jewish mythology incorporated into the Christian Bible, God spoke the universe into existence.  And, as the psalmist and Ben Sira remind us, the created order spoken into existence is majestic, beautiful, and abounding in divine wisdom. I am sufficiently panentheistic (without falling into anti-scientific notions such as creationism) to perceive God in nature, from a sunset to cricket chirps.  Nature is especially beautiful when one regards it as an expression of the sacred.  One does not exploit what one regards as sacred, and environmental stewardship becomes a religious duty, not just a biological imperative.  No, one stands in awe in the presence of what one regards as sacred, and one seeks and finds the words of God there.   Maybe the crickets chirp them.  One does not know for sure until one listens closely enough for long enough.

Speaking of the presence of the sacred, we have the story of Jesus, en route to Jerusalem for Passover, healing blind Bartimaeus.  This is a good time to point out where we are in the Markan narrative.  The book has sixteen chapters; we are at the end of Chapter 10.  Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem for his last celebration of the Passover.  He will die very soon.  He is a man with quite a bit on his mind, but not too much to help this blind man others are trying to keep quiet.

Bartimaeus, the author of the Gospel of Mark tells us, was a blind beggar.  He had little, and his disability rendered him marginal in his society.  Ancient blindness had a variety of causes, ranging from being born that way to having a diet lacking sufficient vitamins to experiencing eye diseases to suffering the effects of bird droppings.  There was a common cultural belief in First Century C.E. Palestine that blindness and other physical ailments resulted from sin; this point arises more than once in the canonical gospels.  So here we have Bartimaeus, who cannot earn a living because he is blind, and whom others regard as unusually sinful.

He hears that Jesus is passing by.  So Bartimaeus seizes his opportunity and calls out to Jesus.  Our Lord and Savior hears these persistent pleas and answers them.  With words Bartimaeus helps create his new reality (one of sight), and with words Jesus completes the process.  And what does Bartimaeus do next?  He follows Jesus on the road to Jerusalem.

I think that the end of this story contains a deeper level of meaning.  Of course Bartimaeus follows Jesus for the remaining fifteen miles to Jerusalem for Passover.  But he follows Jesus in a non-literal way, too.  Bartimaeus follows Jesus for the rest of his life, however long or short that may be.  His ending might not be pleasant, assuming the full meaning of the metaphor.   Yet what time he has left is dedicated to following Jesus, and that is a high calling indeed.

And it began with a simple, persistent plea for mercy.  It started with words.

Ben Sira asks a profound question:

Of his glory who can ever see too much?

I suspect that, had someone asked Bartimaeus this question over a week after the healing, he would have said that nobody can ever see too much divine glory.  He saw more than he expected he would on that day when Jesus passed by, and everything he witnessed changed his life.

Words have the power to create.  What will the results of your words be?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-creative-power-of-words/