Tuesday: Reflection on the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Revised Common Lectionary Proper 13
Roman Catholic Proper 18

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from the Writings: Ecclesiastes 3:16—4:8

Moreover I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?

Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person's envy of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

Fools fold their hands
and consume their own flesh.
Better is a handful with quiet
than two handfuls with toil,
and a chasing after wind.

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. “For whom am I toiling,” they ask, “and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture Lesson from The Twelve Prophets: Hosea 13:1-16

When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;
 he was exalted in Israel;
 but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.
And now they keep on sinning
 and make a cast image for themselves,
idols of silver made according to their understanding,
 all of them the work of artisans.
“Sacrifice to these,” they say.
 People are kissing calves!
Therefore they shall be like the morning mist
 or like the dew that goes away early,
like chaff that swirls from the threshing floor
 or like smoke from a window.

Yet I have been the Lord your God
 ever since the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
 and besides me there is no savior.
It was I who fed you in the wilderness,
 in the land of drought.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
 they were satisfied, and their heart was proud;
 therefore they forgot me.
So I will become like a lion to them,
 like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs,
 and will tear open the covering of their heart;
there I will devour them like a lion,
 as a wild animal would mangle them.

I will destroy you, O Israel;
 who can help you?
Where now is your king,
 that he may save you?
 Where in all your cities are your rulers,
of whom you said,
 “Give me a king and rulers”?
I gave you a king in my anger,
 and I took him away in my wrath.

Ephraim's iniquity is bound up;
 his sin is kept in store.
The pangs of childbirth come for him,
 but he is an unwise son;
for at the proper time he does not present himself
 at the mouth of the womb.
Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
 Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
 O Sheol, where is your destruction?¹

 Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

Although he may flourish among rushes,
 the east wind shall come,a blast from the Lord,
 rising from the wilderness;
and his fountain shall dry up,
 his spring shall be parched.
It shall strip his treasury
 of every precious thing.
Samaria shall bear her guilt,
 because she has rebelled against her God;
they shall fall by the sword,
their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,
 and their pregnant women ripped open.

¹Paul quotes a form of this when he discusses what will happen when we become immortal in the afterlife. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Complementary Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house,
 those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
 the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
 and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
 for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
 the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
 are the sons of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has
 his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame
 when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Semi-continuous Psalm 60

O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
 you have been angry; now restore us!
You have caused the land to quake; you have torn it open;
 repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering.
You have made your people suffer hard things;
 you have given us wine to drink that made us reel.

You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
 to rally to it out of bowshot.
Give victory with your right hand, and answer us,
 so that those whom you love may be rescued.
God has promised in his sanctuary:
 “With exultation I will divide up Shechem,
 and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
  Ephraim is my helmet;
 Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin;
 on Edom I hurl my shoe;
 over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

Who will bring me to the fortified city?
 Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God?
 You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
O grant us help against the foe,
 for human help is worthless.
With God we shall do valiantly;
 it is he who will tread down our foes.

New Testament Epistle Lesson: Colossians 4:2-6

Praying at the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

Year C Ordinary 18, RCL Proper 13, Catholic Proper 18 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.

Image Credit: A Man Prays at the Western Wall, Image by David Shankbone, via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

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