possessions

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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The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Roman Catholic Proper Twenty-three
Revised Common Lectionary Proper Eighteen

Complementary Hebrew Scripture Torah Lesson: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture from the Latter Prophets: Jeremiah 18:1-11

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

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 Lesson: Philemon

Philemon and Apphia

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.

For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

New Testament Gospel Lesson: Luke 14:25-33

There is a parallel passage at Matthew 10:37-38.

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

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

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: Philemon and Apphia, from the Vanderbilt Divinity Library [retrieved August 24, 2016]. Vanderbilt credits the original source as Wikimedia Commons. From Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0.

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The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from the Torah: Genesis 15:1-6

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.”¹ But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.”² He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”³ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.*

¹(verse 3) This idea is found in Romans 4:13-15, part of a discussion of promises realized through faith.
²(verse 4) Stephen quotes this verse in his speech before the Sanhedrin, in
Acts 7:1-53.
³(verse 5) This verse is quoted in
Romans 4:18-25, another part of Paul's discussion about faith,
*(verse 6) This verse is quoted in
Romans 4:3,22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23; and Hebrews 11:12.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture Lesson from the Latter Prophets: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Hear the word of the Lord,
 you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
 you people of Gomorrah!
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
 says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
 and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
 or of lambs, or of goats.

When you come to appear before me,
 who asked this from your hand?
 Trample my courts no more;
bringing offerings is futile;
 incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—
 I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
Your new moons and your appointed festivals
 my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me,
 I am weary of bearing them.
When you stretch out your hands,
 I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
 I will not listen;
 your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
 remove the evil of your doings
 from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
 learn to do good;
seek justice,
 rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
 plead for the widow.
Come now, let us argue it out,
 says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
 they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
 they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
 you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
 you shall be devoured by the sword;
 for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Complementary Psalm 33:12-22

Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
 the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
The Lord looks down from heaven;
 he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned
 he watches all the inhabitants of the earth—
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
 and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army;
 a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
 and by its great might it cannot save.

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
 on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death,
 and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
 he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
 because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
 even as we hope in you.

Semi-continuous Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23

The mighty one, God the Lord,
 speaks and summons the earth
 from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
 God shines forth.

Our God comes and does not keep silence,
before him is a devouring fire,
 and a mighty tempest all around him.
He calls to the heavens above
 and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
 who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
 for God himself is judge.

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak,
 O Israel, I will testify against you.
 I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.

“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
 or I will tear you apart,
 and there will be no one to deliver.
Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
 to those who go the right way
 I will show the salvation of God.”

New Testament Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

New Testament Gospel Lesson: Luke 12:32-40

There is a parallel passage at Matthew 24:45-51.

Alms.jpg

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Year C Ordinary 19, Roman Catholic Proper 19, RCL Proper 14, Sunday

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: Alms by János Thorma, downloaded from Vanderbilt Divinity Library, which credits http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thorma_Alms.jpg as the source. licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

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