What's ahead in the Bible readings for this week
September 13 to 20, 2018
The Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
The Seventeenth Week After Pentecost
This week's image
In the Sunday Gospel lesson, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ. When Jesus begins to tell his disciples of the suffering that he will endure, Peter began to rebuke him. Then Jesus said “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” I take this passage as a reminder that God uses even flawed people like Peter to do great things.
Gospel and Epistle Lessons
Several of our lessons relate to speech. The Sunday Epistle lesson reminds us that the tongue, though a small part of our body, is like a small rudder controlling a large ship. The Saturday Gospel reading includes the parable of the two sons, in which their speech and their actions diverge. There is more on speech in the complementary Hebrew scriptures.
We are again reminded that “faith, by itself, if it has no works, is dead.… Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (from the Friday Epistle reading). The actions of Rahab and Abraham's offering up Isaac are specifically mentioned. The Thursday Epistle lesson mentions five different examples of the faith of the patriarchs as told in Genesis.
In the Sunday passage from James, sets on fire the cycle of nature wasn't clear to me on first reading. Here is what I found in Clark's Commentary on James 3:6
Setteth on fire the course of nature [Greek here] And setteth on fire the wheel of life. I question much whether this verse be in general well understood. There are three different interpretations of it: St. James does not intend to express the whole circle of human affairs, so much affected by the tongue of man; but rather the penal wheel of the Greeks, and not unknown to the Jews, on which they were accustomed to extend criminals, to induce them to confess, or to punish them for crimes; under which wheels, fire was often placed to add to their torments. . . . But is it not possible that by the wheel of life St. James may have the circulation of the blood in view? Angry or irritating language has an astonishing influence on the circulation of the blood: the heart beats high and frequent; the blood is hurried through the arteries to the veins, through the veins to the heart, and through the heart to the arteries again, and so on; an extraordinary degree of heat is at the same time engendered; the eyes become more prominent in their sockets; the capillary vessels suffused with blood; the face flushed; and, in short, the whole wheel of nature is set on fire of hell.… It is true, however, that the rabbins use the term [Hebrew here] gilgal toledoth, "the wheel of generations," to mark the successive generations of men: and it is possible that St. James might refer to this; as if he had said: "The tongue has been the instrument of confusion and misery through all the ages of the world." But the other interpretations are more likely.
This excerpt is from www.godvine.com/bible/james/3-6.
Complementary Series Hebrew Scriptures
There is a theme around speech in our readings this week. The Psalm of preparation begins “I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplications.” The Psalm of response begins “Let my cry come before you, O Lord, give me understanding according to your word.” The Sunday Hebrew Scripture is the third Servant Song for Isaiah, which begins “The Lord God gave me the tongue of a teacher, that I might know how to sustain the weary with a word.”
Our Hebrew Scriptures during the days of preparation concern Rahab, the prostitute who protected the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. On Thursday she hides them among bundles of flax on her roof. On Friday, they escape by lowering themselves from a window in Rahab's dwelling, which was on the outside of the city wall. On Saturday Joshua gives instructions that she and her family (and no one else) should be saved.
The Monday and Tuesday passages from 1 Kings concern disobedience to God. The Monday passage is about King Jeroboam, who was the first king of the northern kingdom after Israel and Judah became separate nations. He instituted religious changes designed to keep the people away from the Jerusalem temple and its priests, who were loyal to Judah. Clearly God did not approve. The Tuesday passage concerns the same unnamed prophet who was sent to Jeroboam. This unnamed prophet is also disobedient to God, and so is also punished.
The Wednesday Hebrew Scripture lesson becomes much clearer when you know that Isaiah is quoting a dialog between Assyria (which is given in quotation marks) and the Lord, whose response is not in quotation marks.
Semi-continuous Series Hebrew Scriptures
We continue reading from Proverbs. Proverbs, according to The Oxford Dictionary of the Bible are short, sometimes witty comments on human life and manners, deriding fools (Proverbs 1:7) or noting consequences (Jeremiah 31:29) or the absurd (Amos 6:12). The Hebrew word can also mean a ‘taunt song’ (Isaiah 14:4).
Here is some additional background, based on the introduction to Proverbs in The New Interpreter's Bible. One difficulty in understanding this book is our Western separation of nature and culture. In the ancient Near East, cosmologies are presupposed. They may be explicit (as in Chapter 1 to 9 of Proverbs) or explicit (as in chapters 10 to 29). Some see in Lady Wisdom evidence of an Israelite goddess whose existence was supressed by the monotheistic editors of the book. Scholars are divided on this question. You can look at the evidence and decide for yourself.
Do you have a friend who could us these readings?
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
Links for the week ahead
Thursday to Sunday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 116:1-9 Thanksgiving for God's answer to prayers.
Semi-continuous Psalm 19 The law of the Lord is perfect.
Thursday: Preparation for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Joshua 2:1-14b Rahab, a prostitute, shelters Joshua's spies.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 15:1-17 The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
Both Hebrews 11:17-22 The faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph
Friday: Preparation for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Joshua 2:15-24 Joshua's spies promise to save Rahab and her family.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 19:24-29 Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke the intelligent and they will gain knowledge.
Both James 2:17-26 Can a person who has faith but does nothing to help others be saved?
Saturday: Preparation for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Joshua 6:22-27 Rahab and her family are spared, but the Israelites destroy everything else except what is brought to the treasury of the house of the Lord.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 21:1-17 If you close your ear to the poor, you will cry out and not be heard.
Both Matthew 21:23-32 Jesus says to the chief priests and the elders "Even the prostitutes and the tax collectors believed John, but you did not."
The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Isaiah 50:4-9a God helps me, therefore I will not be disgraced.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 1:20-33 Wisdom rebukes the foolish, who will not listen to her.
Alternate Semi-continuous Canticle: Wisdom 7:26-8:1 God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.
Both James 3:1-12 Watch what you say.
Both Mark 8:27-38 Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that I am." Peter answered, "You are the Messiah."
Monday to Wednesday Psalms.
Complementary Psalm 119:169-176 Let my cry come before you, and give me understanding according to your word.
Semi-continuous Psalm 73:21-28 God is my strength and my portion forever.
Monday: Reflection on the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Kings 13:1-10 A man of God confronts King Jeroboam.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 22:1-21 The eyes of God keep watch over knowledge, but God overthrows the words of the faithless.
Both Romans 3:9-20 None are righteous. With their tongues they have deceived and their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
Tuesday: Reflection on the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Kings 13:11-25 The prophet disobeys God and is killed by a lion.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 25:1-28 A word well spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Both Colossians 3:1-11 You are renewed in Christ, so there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Wednesday: Reflection on the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Isaiah 10:12-20 Arrogant Assyria is judged.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 29 A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds back.
Both John 7:25-36 Many in the crowd believed that Jesus is the Messiah.
*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
One easy, no cost way to help the Lectionary Company's work and let us expand the number of people who get the readings is to use Amazon Smile. Just click the button below. :)