Wednesday: Reflection on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Revised Common Lectionary Proper 12
Roman Catholic Proper 17

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from The Writings: Esther 7:7—8:17

The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman's house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

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.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture Lesson from The Twelve Prophets: Hosea 6:11—7:16

[Ephraim, Israel, and Samaria all refer to the northern kingdom. Judah is the southern kingdom.]

For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed.

When I would restore the fortunes of my people,
when I would heal Israel,
 the corruption of Ephraim is revealed,
 and the wicked deeds of Samaria;
for they deal falsely,
 the thief breaks in,
 and the bandits raid outside.
But they do not consider
 that I remember all their wickedness.
Now their deeds surround them,
 they are before my face.
By their wickedness they make the king glad,
 and the officials by their treachery.
They are all adulterers;
 they are like a heated oven,
whose baker does not need to stir the fire,
 from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
On the day of our king the officials
 became sick with the heat of wine;
 he stretched out his hand with mockers.
For they are kindled like an oven, their heart burns within them;
 all night their anger smolders;
 in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven,
 and they devour their rulers.
All their kings have fallen;
 none of them calls upon me.

Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
 Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Foreigners devour his strength,
 but he does not know it;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him,
 but he does not know it.
Israel's pride testifies against him;
 yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
 or seek him, for all this.

Ephraim has become like a dove,
 silly and without sense;
 they call upon Egypt, they go to Assyria.
As they go, I will cast my net over them;
 I will bring them down like birds of the air;
 I will discipline them according to the report made to their assembly.
Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
 Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
 but they speak lies against me.

They do not cry to me from the heart,
 but they wail upon their beds;
they gash themselves for grain and wine;
 they rebel against me.
It was I who trained and strengthened their arms,
 yet they plot evil against me.
They turn to that which does not profit;
 they have become like a defective bow;
their officials shall fall by the sword
 because of the rage of their tongue.
So much for their babbling in the land of Egypt.

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 Gospel Lesson: Matthew 5:43-48

There is a parallel passage at Luke 27:27-28 and 32-36.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor¹ 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 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.”

¹Leviticus 19:18

Year C Ordinary 17 Wednesday

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.

Image Credit: Candles, flames, knowing, being by John Hain, downloaded from, Creative Commons 0 license.

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