Lessons for September 20 to 26

What's ahead in the Bible readings for this Week

September 20 to 27
The Eighteenth Week After Pentecost
The Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

This Week's Image

Wisdom-Titan-WS.jpg

This week's image is Titian's Wisdom. This seems appropriate to the epistles for the week and the semi-continuous Hebrew Scriptures, which focus on wisdom.

Gospel Lessons

In our Sunday Gospel, Jesus continues his teaching about the passion to come. In the Saturday Gospel, Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees that they are hypocrites for claiming that if the prophets were alive in their time, the religious leaders would not have stoned them. He specifically mentioned Abel and Zechariah. The Zechariah who was stoned in the temple courtyard was the son of the priest Jehoiada. The story is told in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22. Jehoiada plays a part in Tuesday's Comlementary Hebrew Scripture reading, discussed below. (Matthew, or a later editor, incorrectly identifies the martyred Zechariah as the son of Berachiah. That Zechariah is the prophet for whom a Bible book is named.)

Epistles

Three of our Epistle readings this week carry a theme of wisdom. Sunday's reading from James has this to say:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, has some advice for us about relying on human wisdom. He wrote “My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.”

The Friday reading from Romans also has a warning about claiming to be wiser than we are.

Compementary Hebrew Scriptures

In the Sunday Hebrew Scripture, the prophet Jeremiah complains of the schemes against him, and asks God for retribution against the plotters, another confirmation of the difficulties the prophets faced.

The Hebrew Scriptures during our days of preparation concern Israel's turning away from God to worship other gods. In the Thursday Hebrew Scripture, another unnamed prophet (likely different than the one we had in two of last week's readings) told the Israelites that they had failed to heed God's voice. In the Friday Hebrew Scripture, King Ahab, ruler of Israel and a worshiper of Baal, is killed. Ahab's wife was Jezebel, whose daughter plays a part in the Tuesday Hebrew Scripture. In the Friday reading, Zedekiah, one of the four hundred prophets of Baal, strikes the prophet Micaiah, who predicted the death of Ahab. As Micaiah prophesied, Ahab—even though he disguised himself as an ordinary warrior—is killed in a battle, while the king of Judah survived. In the Saturday reading, it is the Assyrians who conquered Israel, because “they had worshiped other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced.”

The backstory for Tuesday's Hebrew Scripture is interesting. Athaliah, who was Jezebel's daughter, was married to Jehoram, the king of Judah, in order to strengthen the ties between the two kingdoms. Jehoram was succeeded by Ahaziah, his only surviving son. Ahaziah was killed in a military coup. Athaliah then had all her grandchildren killed and seized the throne. She did not know that Jehoash, one of Ahaziah's sons, wasn't killed. Athaliah's sister took him to Jehoiada, who kept him safe, then had him crowned under the protection of the palace guard when he was seven.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scriptures

We continue to read from the wisdom literature, this week with sayings attributed to Agur in Provebs and from Ecclesiastes. Agur in Hebrew means gatherer. The author of Ecclesiastes, often referred to as The Preacher, also has a name derived from gatherer, in this case the Hebrew Qohelet. “All is vanity” is a phrase that repeats in the book. The introduction to Ecclesiastes in The New Interpreter's Study Bible, says that the Hebrew word translated as vanity literally means breath or vapor, which reflects the idea that life is ephemeral, short, and sometimes incomprehensible. The introduction also says that many consider The Preacher a pessimist, while others find a consistent countering of pessimism with joy. As always, you can decide for yourself. There is other interesting reading this week, including the story of Naaman on Monday and Jeremiah's call on Wednesday.

May these readings bring a blessing into your life. Thank you for all that you do to bring God's reign into being.
Mike Gilbertson

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Links for the week ahead

Thursday to Sunday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 54
God is my helper.
Semi-continuous Psalm 1 God watches over the way of the righteous, but the wicked will perish.

Thursday: Preparation for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Judges 6:1-10 The Israelites are oppressed by the Midianites because they did not heed God's voice.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 30:1-10 Every word of God proves true; they shield those who take refuge in God.
Both 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Let your faith rest not on human wisdom, but the power of God.

Friday: Preparation for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Kings 22:24-40 The prophet Micaiah is imprisoned.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 30:18-33 If you stir up anger, you get strife.
Both Romans 11:25-32 The elect include Gentile believers in Christ and the Jews.

Saturday: Preparation for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 2 Kings 17:5-18 Israel ignores the warnings of every prophet and seer and so is carried captive into Assyria.
Semi-continuous Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 In much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.
Both Matthew 23:29-39 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and those who are sent to it.

The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Jeremiah 11:18-20 Jeremiah commits his cause to God.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 31:10-31 Ode to a capable wife
Both James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.
Both Mark 9:30-37 Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes on of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but the One who sent me."

Monday to Wednesday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 139:1-18
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Semi-continuous Psalm 128 The happy home of the faithful

Monday: Reflection on the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 2 Kings 5:1-14 A captive Israelite girl tells Naaman's wife to send him to Elisha, who tells him how to cure his leprosy.
Semi-continuous Proverbs 27:1-27 Don't boast about tomorrow, because you do not know what it will bring.
Both James 4:8-17 You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes.

Tuesday: Reflection on the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 2 Kings 11:21-12:16 Jehoash, the boy king, has the temple rebuilt.
Semi-continuous Ecclesiastes 4:9-16 A friend is valuable.
Both James 5:1-6 You rich people, weep for the miseries that are coming to you.

Wednesday: Reflection on the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Jeremiah 1:4-10 God calls Jeremiah
Semi-continuous Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 A fool's voice comes with many words.
Both John 8:21-38 Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

*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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Bibles We Use

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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New Internation Version (NIV), Holy Bible, eBook

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Modern English Version (MEV) Bible Thinline Reference Brown

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Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Complete Jewish Bible Softcover (Updated)

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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.

Image credit: Wisdom by Titian, via Wikimedia Commons. Black corners replaced by white by Michael Gilbertson using Photoshop 13 May 2016. This is a public domain image.