Monday: Reflection on the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Roman Catholic Proper 21
Revised Common Lectionary Proper 16

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from the Latter Prophets: Ezekiel 20:1-17

In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, certain elders of Israel came to consult the Lord, and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them: Thus says the Lord God: Why are you coming? To consult me? As I live, says the Lord God, I will not be consulted by you. Will you judge them, mortal, will you judge them? Then let them know the abominations of their ancestors, and say to them: Thus says the Lord God: On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob—making myself known to them in the land of Egypt—I swore to them, saying, I am the Lord your God. On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; not one of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.

Then I thought I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.

So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them my statutes and showed them my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live. Moreover I gave them my sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness; they did not observe my statutes but rejected my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live; and my sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I thought I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make an end of them. But I acted for the sake of my name, so that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. Moreover I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land that I had given them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands, because they rejected my ordinances and did not observe my statutes, and profaned my sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make an end of them in the wilderness.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture from the Latter Prophets: Jeremiah 7:1-15

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”

For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.

Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord¹. Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim.

¹Jesus quotes this passage when he throws the money changers out of the temple. This episode is told in Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, and Luke 19:45-47.

Complementary Psalm 109:21-31

But you, O Lord my Lord,
 act on my behalf for your name's sake;
 because your steadfast love is good, deliver me.
For I am poor and needy,
 and my heart is pierced within me.
I am gone like a shadow at evening;
 I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting;
 my body has become gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
 when they see me, they shake their heads.

Help me, O Lord my God!
 Save me according to your steadfast love.
Let them know that this is your hand;
 you, O Lord, have done it.
Let them curse, but you will bless.
 Let my assailants be put to shame; may your servant be glad.
May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
 may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle.
With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
 I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
 to save them from those who would condemn them to death.

Semi-continuous Psalm 10

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
 Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor—
 let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.

For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart,
 those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”;
 all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Their ways prosper at all times;
 your judgments are on high, out of their sight;
 as for their foes, they scoff at them.
They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved;
 throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”

Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
 under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.
They sit in ambush in the villages;
 in hiding places they murder the innocent.

Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
 they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert;
they lurk that they may seize the poor;
 they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.
They stoop, they crouch,
 and the helpless fall by their might.
They think in their heart,
 “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
 do not forget the oppressed.
Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts,
 “You will not call us to account”?

But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief,
 that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;
 you have been the helper of the orphan.

Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers;
 seek out their wickedness until you find none.
The Lord is king forever and ever;
 the nations shall perish from his land.

O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
 you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
 to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
 so that those from earth may strike terror no more.

New Testament Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 3:7—4:11

The Sabbath Rest by Samuel Hirszenberg

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
as on that day of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors put me to the test,
though they had seen my work for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation and I said,
“They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known my ways.”
As in my anger I swore,
“They shall not enter my rest”¹

Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”² Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? But with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “As in my anger I swore, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’”³ though his works were finished at the foundation of the world. For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this place it says, “They shall not enter my rest.”³ Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he sets a certain day—“today” —saying through David much later, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”² For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God's rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.

Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.

¹Psalm 95:7-11   ²Psalm 95:7-8   ³Psalm 95:11

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: The Sabbath Rest by Samuel Hirszenberg via Wikimedia Commons

Year C Ordinary 21, Catholic Proper 21, RCL Proper 16: Monday

Print Friendly and PDF