Jeremiah's lament

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

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from the Former Prophets: 2 Kings 18:19-25; 19:1-7

There are parallel passages at Isaiah 37:21-38 and 2 Chronicles 32:20-21.

The Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah: Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you base this confidence of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? On whom do you now rely, that you have rebelled against me? See, you are relying now on Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of anyone who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him. But if you say to me, ‘We rely on the Lord our God,’ is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’? Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master's servants, when you rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.”

When King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.” When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. I myself will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture from the Latter Prophets: Jeremiah 20:1-18

Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur struck the prophet Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. The next morning when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, The Lord has named you not Pashhur but “Terror-all-around.” For thus says the Lord: I am making you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon; he shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall kill them with the sword. I will give all the wealth of this city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them, and seize them, and carry them to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house, shall go into captivity, and to Babylon you shall go; there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.

O Lord, you have enticed me,
 and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me,
 and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all day long;
 everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I must cry out,
 I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me
 a reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, “I will not mention him,
 or speak any more in his name,”
then within me there is something like a burning fire
 shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in,
 and I cannot.
For I hear many whispering:
 “Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
All my close friends
 are watching for me to stumble.
“Perhaps he can be enticed,
 and we can prevail against him,
 and take our revenge on him.”
But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
 therefore my persecutors will stumble,
 and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
 for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
 will never be forgotten.
O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous,
 you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
  for to you I have committed my cause.

Sing to the Lord;
 praise the Lord!
 For he has delivered the life of the needy
 from the hands of evildoers.

Cursed be the day
 on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me,
 let it not be blessed!
Cursed be the man
 who brought the news to my father, saying,
“A child is born to you, a son,”
 making him very glad.
Let that man be like the cities
 that the Lord overthrew without pity;
let him hear a cry in the morning
 and an alarm at noon,
because he did not kill me in the womb;
 so my mother would have been my grave,
 and her womb forever great.
Why did I come forth from the womb
 to see toil and sorrow,
 and spend my days in shame?

Semi-continuous Psalm 2

Why do the nations conspire,
 and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
 and the rulers take counsel together,
 against the Lord and his anointed,¹
saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder,
 and cast their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
 the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
 and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
 today I have begotten you.
²
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
 and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
 and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
 be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
 with trembling³
kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
 for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are all who take refuge in him.

¹These verses are quoted in Acts 4:23-31, where the believers pray for boldness.
²Paul quotes this verse when he is preaching at Antioch of Pisidia (
Acts 13:26-34)
³This phrase is repeated in what scholars think is an early hymn found in
Philippians 2:5-11.

New Testament Gospel Lesson: Luke 18:18-30

There are parallel passages at Matthew 19:16-30 and Mark 10:17-31.

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler

A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.¹’” He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.” Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for mt0he sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

¹These are from the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17, Deuteronomy 5:6-21).

Year C Ordinary 23, Catholic Proper 23, RCL Proper 18: 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.

Parallel passages are as indicated in the Modern English Version Bible, 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: Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann, via Wikimedia Commons. This is a public domain image. Creative Commons 0 license

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Thursday: Preparation for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Roman Catholic Proper 23
Revised Common Lectionary Proper 18

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from the Torah: Genesis 39:1-23

Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph's charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. And after a time his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master's wife, “Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, she caught hold of his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called out to the members of her household and said to them, “See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.” Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.”

When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, “This is the way your servant treated me,” he became enraged. And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.¹ The chief jailer committed to Joseph's care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph's care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.¹

¹In his defense before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:1-53.), Stephen makes note that God was with Joseph.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture from the Latter Prophets: Jeremiah 15:10-21

[Jeremiah's lament] Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me.

[God's response] The Lord said: Surely I have intervened in your life for good, surely I have imposed enemies on you in a time of trouble and in a time of distress. Can iron and bronze break iron from the north?

Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.

[Jeremiah's lament]
O Lord, you know;
 remember me and visit me,
 and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance do not take me away;
 know that on your account I suffer insult.
Your words were found, and I ate them,
 and your words became to me a joy,
 and the delight of my heart;
 for I am called by your name,,
 O Lord, God of hosts.
I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,,
 nor did I rejoice;
under the weight of your hand I sat alone,
 for you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unceasing,
 my wound incurable,
 refusing to be healed?
Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
 like waters that fail.

[God's response]
Therefore thus says the Lord:
If you turn back, I will take you back,
 and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
 you shall serve as my mouth.
It is they who will turn to you,
 not you who will turn to them.
And I will make you to this people,
 a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
 but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you,
 to save you and deliver you, says the Lord.

I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
 and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

Complementary Psalm 1

Happy are those
 who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
 or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
 and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
 planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
 and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so,
 but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
 nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
 but the way of the wicked will perish.

Semi-continuous Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
 you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
 and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
 O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
 and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
 it is so high that I cannot attain it.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
 you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
 Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
 intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written all the days
 that were formed for me,
 when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
 How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
 I come to the end—I am still with you.

New Testament Epistle Lesson: Philippians 2:25-30

Philippians 2:25-30

Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.

Year C Ordinary 23, Catholic Proper 23, RCL Proper 18: Thursday

Bible verses from The New Revised Standard Version, 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.

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

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 this copyright notice applies.
Image credit: Word cloud created (on wordle.net) by Michael Gilbertson 24 August 2016. Image may be used under CC 2.5. Please credit The Lectionary Company.

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Friday: Preparation for the Third Sunday in Epiphany

Jeremiah 20:7-13 O LORD of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; to you I have committed my cause. Praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.

2 Peter 3:1-7 In the last days scoffers will come, indulging their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” They deliberately ignore that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water, but by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.

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