Wednesday: Reflection on the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week's blog post is here.

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from the Latter Prophets: Zechariah 10:1-12

Ask rain from the Lord
 in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
 who gives showers of rain to you,
 the vegetation in the field to everyone.
For the teraphim utter nonsense,
 and the diviners see lies;
the dreamers tell false dreams,
 and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
 they suffer for lack of a shepherd.

My anger is hot against the shepherds,
 and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
 and will make them like his proud war–horse.
Out of them shall come the cornerstone,
 out of them the tent peg,
out of them the battle bow,
 out of them every commander.
Together they shall be like warriors in battle,
 trampling the foe in the mud of the streets;
they shall fight, for the Lord is with them,
 and they shall put to shame the riders on horses.

I will strengthen the house of Judah,
 and I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
 and they shall be as though I had not rejected them;
 for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.
Then the people of Ephraim shall become like warriors,
 and their hearts shall be glad as with wine.
Their children shall see it and rejoice,
 their hearts shall exult in the Lord.

I will signal for them and gather them in,
 for I have redeemed them,
 and they shall be as numerous as they were before.
Though I scattered them among the nations,
 yet in far countries they shall remember me,
 and they shall rear their children and return.
I will bring them home from the land of Egypt,
 and gather them from Assyria;
I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon,
 until there is no room for them.
They shall pass through the sea of distress,
 and the waves of the sea shall be struck down,
 and all the depths of the Nile dried up.
The pride of Assyria shall be laid low,
 and the scepter of Egypt shall depart.
I will make them strong in the Lord,
 and they shall walk in his name,
  says the Lord.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture from the Writings: Esther 8:1-17

On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. Then the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. So Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Then Esther spoke again to the king; she fell at his feet, weeping and pleading with him to avert the evil design of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. The king held out the golden scepter to Esther, and Esther rose and stood before the king. She said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have won his favor, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I have his approval, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote giving orders to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming on my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai, “See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he plotted to lay hands on the Jews. You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring; for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.”

The king's secretaries were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. He wrote letters in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed them with the king's ring, and sent them by mounted couriers riding on fast steeds bred from the royal herd. By these letters the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of the writ was to be issued as a decree in every province and published to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take revenge on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift royal steeds, hurried out, urged by the king's command. The decree was issued in the citadel of Susa.

Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king, wearing royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor. In every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday. Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

Complementary Psalm 5

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
 give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
 my King and my God,
 for to you I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
 in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
 evil will not sojourn with you.
The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
 you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
 the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
 will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
 because of my enemies;
 make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouths;
 their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
 they flatter with their tongues.
Make them bear their guilt, O God;
 let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
 for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
 let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
 so that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
 you cover them with favor as with a shield.

Semi-continuous Psalm 140

Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers;
 protect me from those who are violent,
who plan evil things in their minds
 and stir up wars continually.
They make their tongue sharp as a snake's,
 and under their lips is the venom of vipers. Selah

Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
 protect me from the violent
 who have planned my downfall.
The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
 and with cords they have spread a net,
 along the road they have set snares for me. Selah

I say to the Lord, “You are my God;
 give ear, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications.”
O Lord, my Lord, my strong deliverer,
 you have covered my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;
 do not further their evil plot. Selah

Those who surround me lift up their heads;
 let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
Let burning coals fall on them!
 Let them be flung into pits, no more to rise!
Do not let the slanderer be established in the land;
 let evil speedily hunt down the violent!

I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy,
 and executes justice for the poor.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
 the upright shall live in your presence.

New Testament Gospel Lesson: Matthew 18:6-9¹

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!

“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.”

¹There are parallel passages at Mark 9:42-48, which we read on Sunday, and Luke 17:1-2.

Year B Ordinary 26 Wednesday

Selections from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 1995 by the Consultation on Common Texts.

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible text is from The New Revised Standard Version, (NRSV) copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All right reserved.

Parallel passages are as indicated in The Holy Bible Modern English Version (MEV), copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Used by permission. All rights reserved. When text is taken from the MEV, the passage ends with (MEV) and the foregoing copyright notice applies.

Image credit: Stumble Sign downloaded from Pixabay.This is a public domain image.

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