August 16 to 22 (Ordinary 20)

What's ahead in the Bible readings for this week

The Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time*
The Thirteenth Week After Pentecost
RCL Proper 15, Catholic Proper 20

This week's image

Open Bible with Notebook

Do you sometimes take notes while reading the Bible? Or have the urge to? There are a number of Bibles printed with wide columns and on thicker paper than the usual Bible to make it easier to take notes or mark a passage that applied to you or someone you know at a particular time. The links below are to Amazon's website; each of the Bibles is designed for notetaking.

If you buy one of these Bibles through the links, The Lectionary Company gets a small commission. They do not cost any more than going directly through Amazon, and it is a good way to support our work.


Fear of God

Both of our psalms for the first half of the week use the phrase fear of God or fear of the Lord. Verse 9 of Psalm 34 reads “O fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have not want.” The first part of verse 5 of Psalm 111 reads “He provides food for those who fear him.” So what does fear of God involve? The Holman Christian Standard Bible says this:

No single English word conveys every aspect of the word fear in this phrase. The meaning includes worshipful submission, reverential awe, and obedient respect to the covenant-keeping God of Israel.

This is much different than fear of a bully or of an enemy. I used reverence in the summaries below.


Gospel Lessons

Our anchor Gospel this week comes from the sixth chapter of John. In it Jesus tells a crowd:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.…Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

This is surely a reminder of the importance of communion in our lives as Christians.


On Wednesday Jesus and his disciples are again in a boat, and again they are confused when he tells them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod. In another version of the story which we read two weeks ago, they were warned to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadduces. The Pharisees believed that, in addition to the written Torah, there was an oral Torah passed down from Moses. The Sadducees believed only in the written Torah. Herod, of course, was the Roman governor.

In the Saturday Gospel from John, Jesus is with a Samaritan woman at a well. There are at least two interesting things here. First, she is at the well at midday. Women normally would draw water when it was cooler, in the morning or the evening. Second, she has had five husbands and is now with a man who is not her husband. Most likely she was an outsider in the community, which is why she would be at the well when others wouldn't be around. Yet Jesus reveals himself to her.

Lessons from Acts of the Apostles and Epistles

Our lessons from the Epistles and Acts also concern wisdom. On Sunday we read from Paul's letter to the Ephesians his warning to “be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” The story of Stephen is told out of order; we do not read of his selection as a deacon until Monday. But on Thursday we read that some who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen argued with Stephen but could not withstand his wisdom. When they conspired against him, Stephen appeared before the council “and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”

Complementary Series Hebrew Scriptures

The Sunday Hebrew scripture is a passage from Proverb concerning holy Wisdom. She has hewn seven pillars for her house. This is likely a reference to an ancient belief that the world stood on seven pillars; thus Wisdom was involved with creation. Proverbs 8:22 reads “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts long ago.” In the fifth verse, she says “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.” This might be a reminder to us of the importance of regular communion.

Our Hebrew scripture readings in preparation for Sunday are from Job. These readings also emphasize wisdom. Job 12:13, for example, says “With God are wisdom and strength; he has counsel and understanding.” Our reflection readings tell part of the story of Joseph (Jacob/Israel's son) in Egypt. Joseph, far from being angry with his brothers for selling him into slavery, tells them what God has done through him to preserve the people. I think this is an example of wisdom in action.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scriptures

This week we read about the transition from David's rule to Solomon's. There is some drama, of course. Another of David's sons usurps the throne, but is defeated. We also have one of the most famous stories in the Bible: two prostitutes both claim the same baby as theirs. Solomon has a sword brought in so he can cut the baby in half. Of course the real mother says to let the other woman have the baby so that he will not be killed. Solomon gives the baby to her.

We have the details of Solomon's palace, and the placing of the Ark of the Covenant in the temple, but we don't have the building of the temple. We will read about that next week

Links for the week ahead

Thursday to Sunday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 34:9-14 I will teach you reverence for God.
Semi-continuous Psalm 111 Reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom.

Thursday: Preparation for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Job 11 Zophar says, "O that God would tell you the secrets of wisdom."
Semi-continuous 1 Kings 1:1-30 Adonijah usurps David's throne.
Both Acts 6:8-15 Stephen, brought before the council for his preaching, speaks with wisdom and the Spirit.

Friday: Preparation for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Job 12 Job replies, "With God are wisdom and strength; with God are strength and wisdom. The deceived and the deceiver are his."
Semi-continuous 1 Kings 1:28-48 David makes Solomon king.
Both Romans 16:17-20 Be wise in what is good and guileless in what is evil.

Saturday: Preparation for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Job 13:1-19 Job says to his friends, "If you will only keep silent, that will be your wisdom."
Semi-continuous 1 Kings 2:1-11 David, near death, instructs Solomon.
Both John 4:7-26 A Samaritan woman at a well learns that Christ is the living water.

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Proverbs 9:1-6 The simple and the senseless are invited to Wisdom's feast.
Semi-continuous 1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14 David's death and Solomon's prayer for wisdom.
Both Ephesians 5:15-20 Be careful how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Both John 6:51-58 Christ's flesh is the true food, and his blood the true drink.

Monday to Wednesday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 36 The wickedness of humans and God's loving kindness
Semi-continuous Psalm 101 A pledge of integrity and justice

Monday: Reflection on the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Genesis 43:1-15 Joseph's brothers need food.
Semi-continuous 1 Kings 3:16-28 When two women claim the same child, Solomon demonstrates his wisdom.
Both Acts 6:1-7 The first deacons, among them Stephen.

Tuesday: Reflection on the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Genesis 45:1-15 Joseph provides food.
Semi-continuous 1 Kings 7:1-12 The building of Solomon's palace.
Both Acts 7:9-16 Stephen summarizes Joseph's story.

Wednesday: Reflection on the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Genesis 47:13-26 There is famine in Egypt, which Joseph uses to increase Pharaoh's wealth.
Semi-continuous 1 Kings 8:1-21 The Ark of the Covenant is brought into the temple.
Both Mark 8:14-21 Jesus warns the disciples of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.

*Denominations have different ways of designating the weeks during the year, so your church may refer to this week by a different name. Regardless of the name, the readings are the same. Here is an explanation: Calendar Explanation

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

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible text is from The New Revised Standard Version, (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 right reserved.

The Holman Standard Bible® is Copyright ©1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible® Holman CSB® and HSCB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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