Tuesday: Reflection on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Revised Common Lectionary Proper 12
Roman Catholic Proper 17

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from The Writings: Esther 6:1—7:6

On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. It was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus. Then the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king's servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. So the king's servants told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” The king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?” Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?” So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials; let him robe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him conduct the man on horseback through the open square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.’” Then the king said to Haman, “Quickly, take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to the Jew Mordecai who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” So Haman took the robes and the horse and robed Mordecai and led him riding through the open square of the city, proclaiming, “Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.”

Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him.” While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture Lesson from The Twelve Prophets: Hosea 6:1-10

“Come, let us return to the Lord;
 for it is he who has torn,
 and he will heal us;
he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
 on the third day he will raise us up,
 that we may live before him.¹

Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
 his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
 like the spring rains that water the earth.”

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
 What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
 like the dew that goes away early.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
 I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
 and my judgment goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
 the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.²

But at Adam they transgressed the covenant;
 there they dealt faithlessly with me.
Gilead is a city of evildoers,
 tracked with blood.
As robbers lie in wait for someone,
 so the priests are banded together;
they murder on the road to Shechem,
 they commit a monstrous crime.
In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
 Ephraim's whoredom is there, Israel is defiled.

¹There is an allusion to this verse is Jesus' third foretelling of his death, found at Mark 10:32-34.
²Jesus quotes this verse in the call of Matthew, found at
Matthew 9:9-13.

Complementary Psalm 55:16-23

But I call upon God,
 and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
 I utter my complaint and moan,
 and he will hear my voice.

He will redeem me unharmed
 from the battle that I wage,
 for many are arrayed against me.
God, who is enthroned from of old,
 will hear, and will humble them—
because they do not change,
 and do not fear God.

My companion laid hands on a friend
 and violated a covenant with me
with speech smoother than butter,
 but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer than oil,
 but in fact were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
 and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
 the righteous to be moved.

But you, O God, will cast them down
 into the lowest pit;
the bloodthirsty and treacherous
 shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Semi-continuous Psalm 44

We have heard with our ears, O God,
 our ancestors have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
 in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
 but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
 but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
 nor did their own arm give them victory;
but your right hand, and your arm,
 and the light of your countenance,
 for you delighted in them.

You are my King and my God;
 you command victories for Jacob.
Through you we push down our foes;
 through your name we tread down our assailants.
For not in my bow do I trust,
 nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
 and have put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
 and we will give thanks to your name forever.

Yet you have rejected us and abased us,
 and have not gone out with our armies.
You made us turn back from the foe,
 and our enemies have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter,
 and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle,
 demanding no high price for them.

You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
 the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations,
 a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me,
 and shame has covered my face
at the words of the taunters and revilers,
 at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

All this has come upon us,
 yet we have not forgotten you,
 or been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
 nor have our steps departed from your way,
yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals,
 and covered us with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
 or spread out our hands to a strange god,
would not God discover this?
 For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Because of you we are being killed all day long,
 and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.¹

Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?
 Awake, do not cast us off forever!
Why do you hide your face?
 Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For we sink down to the dust;
 our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up, come to our help.

Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

¹Paul alludes to this verse in Romans 8:31-39, where he explains God's love in Christ Jesus.

New Testament Epistle Lesson: Romans 9:30—10:4

Faith.jpg

What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,

“See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will make them fall,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”¹

Brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

¹Isaiah 8:14 and 29:16

Year C Ordinary 17 Tuesday

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

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible text is from New Revised Standard Version Bible (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 rights reserved.

Footnotes in the Hebrew Scriptures that show where the passage is used in the Christian Scriptures are based on information from the The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) by David H. Stern, Copyright © 1998 and 2006 by David H. Stern, used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, www.messianicjewish.net. All rights reserved worldwide. When text is taken from the CJB, the passage ends with (CJB) and the foregoing copyright notice applies.

Image Credit: Faith by Marshmellowpuff, downloaded from deviantart.com licensed under Creative Commons 4.0. See more of her art at her Deviant art page.

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