August 30 to September 5 (Ordinary 22)

What's ahead in the Bible readings for this week

RCL Proper 17, Catholic Proper 22
The Fifteenth Week After Pentecost

August 30 to September 5, 2018

Actions > Words

Epistle Lessons

The key verse this week, which we read on Sunday, comes from the first chapter of James' letter: “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in the mirror; for they look at themselves and on going away, immediately forget what they are like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.”

In the Thursday Epistle lesson James reminds us that we should ask in faith, never doubting. This is an echo of the Saturday Gospel reading last week, and of the one three Saturdays ago. The Monday Epistle lesson Paul calls on Timothy to “set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity,” again reminding us of the importance of our actions.

Gospel Lessons

Our Sunday Gospel has the Pharisees and some scribes questioning Jesus about the traditions of the elders about hand washing. Jesus answers them with a reminder that it is not what is on our hands but what is in our hearts that defiles us. This, it seems to me, reminds us that if we act on our evil intentions, we are not bringing forth the kingdom of God. The Wednesday Gospel reading fills in the verses not included in the Sunday reading.

Complementary Hebrew Scriptures

Our Thursday and Friday Hebrew Scriptures give us the story of the golden calf. Again, actions speak louder than words when the people abandon their God for something from the hand of Aaron. On Saturday Moses and God renew the covenant. Beginning on Sunday and continuing until Wednesday we have a long speech by Moses. His key point is that we must keep the commandments God has given us.


The reflection Psalm, part of the 106th, mentions the rebellion of Dathan and Abiram. The story is told in Numbers 16 if you want to read it.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scriptures

This week we are reading from The Song of Solomon, titled The Song of Songs in some translations. This book is unusual for several reasons. It is one of only two books in the Bible which don't mention God (the other is Esther), and it is the only book in which a female voice predominates. It is also concerned with intimate relations, rather than the intrigue, politics, and prophetic conflict we find in most books. Moreover, the woman is black (1:5 “I am black and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.”). Unfortunately, the NRSV translation does not tell us who is speaking, mashing the bride's and groom's voices together. I included the speakers, using the divisions in the Modern English Version, which makes the poetry much clearer (at least to me). As a result, the paragraphs are different than in the NRSV text; the words, however, are from the NRSV.

Have you invited anyone to join the Bible reading community?


If you know someone who could deepen his or her commitment to being a Christian through these readings, why not forward this newsletter to that person? Here is a link that leads to the sign up form: Sign up link Let me know if you ask someone ( If the person signs up for the daily readings, I will send you a Bible Reader tee shirt. 

Summaries and Links for the week ahead



Thursday to Sunday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 15 The righteous will dwell on God's holy hill.
Semi-continuous Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 Your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

Thursday: Preparation for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Exodus 32:1-14 The Israelites make themselves a god.
Semi-continuous Song of Solomon 1 The bride confesses her love, and she and the groom delight in each other.
Both James 1:1-8 If you lack wisdom, ask God, and God will give it to you.

Friday: Preparation for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Exodus 32:15-35 Moses punishes the people for their blasphemy. God sends a plague.
Semi-continuous Song of Solomon 2:1-7 The bride and the groom speak of their love for each other.
Both James 1:9-16 If you persevere under trial and withstand the test, you will gain the crown of glory.

Saturday: Preparation for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Exodus 34: 8-28 God renews the covenant with the Israelites.
Semi-continuous Hosea 3 Hosea redeems his wife.
Both John 18:28-32 Jewish leaders won't enter Pilate's headquarters while they are trying to get Jesus killed. If they entered the headquarters, they would be defiled and could not eat the Passover meal.

The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 What nation is there that has a law as righteous as the one I set before you today?
Semi-continuous Song of Solomon 2:8-13 The bride adores her beloved.
Both James 1:17-27 Don't be a hearer who forgets. Be a doer who acts, and you will be blessed in the doing.
Both Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Jesus tells the Pharisees, quoting Isaiah, "This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines."

Monday to Wednesday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 106:1-6, 23-33, 47-48 Praise God, for God is good. Yet the people made a calf to worship. Save us God! Semi-continuous Psalm 144:9-15 The blessings of God: children, full granaries, sheep increasing by thousands, and cattle heavy with young.

Monday: Reflection on the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 4:9-14 Make sure your children and grandchildren know how awesome our God is.
Semi-continuous Song of Solomon 3:6-11 The bride sees her groom coming to her.
Both 1 Timothy 4:6-16 Timothy will be nourished on the words of the faith when he puts sound instruction before the community.

Tuesday: Reflection on the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 4:15-20 Do not make an idol of anything on earth or in heaven.
Semi-continuous Song of Solomon 5:2-6:3 The bride searches for her beloved and praises him.
Both 1 Peter 2:19-25 If you suffer when you do right, you have God's approval. Christ suffered for you to set you an example.

Wednesday: Reflection on the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 4:21-40 Do not forget your covenant with God, for God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Semi-continuous Song of Solomon 8:5-7 The bride longs for her beloved.
Both Mark 7:9-23 Jesus tells the crowd, "There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."

*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

Mike Gilbertson

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.

Parallel passages are as indicated in The Holy Bible Modern English Version (MEV), 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: Actions > Words by Michael Gilbertson. This image may be used under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 license. Please credit The Lectionary Company.