What's ahead in the Bible readings
November 1 to November 7, 2018
The Twenty-third Week After Pentecost
The Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time*
Bible Review: The Modern English Version
The most important thing you need to know about the Modern English Version (MEV) is that it is a revision of the Authorized Version, usually called the King James Version (KJV). It incorporates modern English vernacular. This translation started as an effort by military chaplains to provide an update to the KJV, so that troops could better understand it. Military chaplains got others who were not chaplains involved in the work; eventually, the target audience changed to the entire English-speaking world. It follows the principle of formal equivalence, which means being as literal as possible using proper grammar and syntax.
One feature that I find helpful is naming the parallel passage just below the title of a section. A slight disadvantage of this approach is that it requires a title whenever there is a parallel passage, even if one isn't necessary for us to understand what follows. As always, remember that the title is not part of the text, and was added by editors to help us. This translation is usually the source of the parallel passages included in our daily readings. A relatively unusual feature is that pronouns referring to God or Jesus are always capitalized. This can be helpful at times when it isn't clear to whom the pronoun refers. References to books of the Bible in footnotes and when parallel passages are named use abbreviations for book names. For example, Mt for Matthew and Lk for Luke.
The books are in the usual order. It does not include the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books.
There is an interesting but incomplete history of English language Bibles included in the introduction, starting with William Tyndale's translation. It is incomplete because it does not mention the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), or any of the many translations by Catholic scholars. It does have a very complete description of the development of the KJV.
Here is our Sunday Gospel Lesson from the MEV:
The Great Commandment
Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28
One of the scribes came near and heard them reasoning together. Perceiving that Jesus had answered them well, he asked Him, “Which of the is the first commandment of all?”
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’¹ This is the first commandment. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’² There is no commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, that there is God, and there is no other but Him. To love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength and to love one's neighbor as oneself is much more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask Him any question.
¹30 Dt 6:4-5 ²31 Lev 19:18 (MEV)
Previous Bible reviews covering the NET Bible, the Message, and The Inclusive Bible, and the Amplified Bible are here.
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This week's illustration
The image this week is of the Good Samaritan with the man who was beaten on the road. He is at the inn, and the inn keeper is helping him to bring the injured man inside. It is a reminder to me first, that actions are greater than words, and second that help can come from unexpected quarters.
Theme of this week's lessons
Our readings this week nearly all have a theme of love. The key reading from the complementary Hebrew Scriptures comes on Sunday when we read the beginning of the Shema prayer from Deuteronomy:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
You can find the rest of the Shema here.
The begining of the Shema in Hebrew.
Our Gospel lesson for Sunday a scribe asks Jesus which commandment is the greatest, and Jesus quotes from the passage above and adds "and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." The scribe replies
“Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, that there is God, and there is no other but Him. To love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength and to love one's neighbor as oneself is much more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (MEV)
Of course, there is always the question of who is my neighbor. Jesus answers this in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is our Saturday Gospel reading. We are so used to the idea of the Samaritan as a good and righteous person that most of us don't understand the ways in which Jesus' hearers would have thought of the Samaritan. The Samaritans rejected a view of salvation history centered on Jerusalem, and their religious life centered on a temple on Mt. Gerizim, rather than on the Jerusalem temple. An analogy might be Christians and Muslems. We worship the same God, but in quite different ways, and there is unfortunately enmity between us. So it was between Jews and Samaritans.
In our third Gospel reading, on Wednesday, Jesus tells us to love one another. So our three Gospel readings tell us to love God, our neighbors in the broadest sense, and one another. Think this week about who is your neighbor in the sense of the Good Samaritan parable.
I want to share some perspective on verse five of the complementary Psalm 51, which we read during the time of reflection. “Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me,” reads the verse. Here is what the New Interpreter's Bible commentary has to say:
It is not intended to suggest that sin is transmitted biologically or that sexuality is sinful by definition. Rather, it conveys the inevitability of human fallibility. In each human life, in each human situation, sin is pervasive. We are born into it, and we cannot escape it. While sin is a matter of individual decision, it also has a corporate dimension that affects us, despite our best intentions and decisions.
Here is the good news:
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
God forgives us. Thanks be to God.
Our semi-continuous psalm during the time of preparation reminds us that God graciously lifts up those who are bowed down.
In our Friday Epistle, Paul reminds us that our God is the God of both Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles, of course, means everyone who is not Jewish. Paul also reminds us that Jesus has paid for our sins by his blood. In our Sunday Epistle from Hebrews, we are reminded of this: if the blood of goats and bulls sanctifies those who have been defiled, much more Christ's blood brings us redemption. In our Monday Epistle lesson, Paul urges the Romans (and us) to live peaceably with all, and reminds us that love is the fulfilling of the law.
Complementary Hebrew Scripture
Our Wednesday Hebrew Scripture reading has the prophet Micah reminding us what God requires of us: to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. See the discussion above for our Sunday Hebrew Scripture.
There one lesson where some context might be helpful. The Saturday Hebrew Scripture is about what happens when an Israelite is unable to celebrate Passover. The answer is that you do it later, at a time specified in the reading. This actually fits with the rest of our readings, because it is about the importance of returning the love that God has shown us by freeing the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage.
Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture
This week we are reading about Ruth and Naomi, a pair of women bonded as mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Ruth, a Maobite, sticks with Naomi, a woman from Judah, as they return to Naomi's homeland. There Ruth takes some pretty forward actions, which are ultimately rewarded with marriage to a relative of Naomi's. I especially note how Ruth shares what she gets by gleaning in the fields with Naomi, sustaining them both until Ruth's marriage. We will finish up our lessons about Ruth next week in our Thursday through Sunday lessons.
Thank you for all that you do but to bring about justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
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Summary and a link for each day
Thursday to Sunday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 119:1-8 Seeking God with all our hearts
Semi-continuous Psalm 146 God lifts those who are bowed down.
Thursday: Preparation for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Exodus 22:1-15 Laws about restitution
Semi-continuous Ruth 1:18-22 Ruth the Maobite and Naomi the Judean return to Judah after both are widowed.
Both Hebrews 9:1-12 The ritual of the sanctuary: Christ has entered into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
Friday: Preparation for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Leviticus 19:32-37 You shall fear God. You shall treat aliens as part of your community, for you were aliens in Egypt.
Semi-continuous Ruth 2:1-9 Ruth meets Boaz.
Both Romans 3:21-31 God is God of both Jews and Gentiles. Christ, through his blood, has atoned for our sins.
Saturday: Preparation for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Numbers 9:9-14 All should keep the Passover. You have one law for the resident alien and the native.
Semi-continuous Ruth 2:10-14 Boaz protects Ruth.
Both Luke 10:25-37 Jesus, through the parable of the Good Samaritan, defines who a neighbor is.
The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 6:1-9 The Great Commandment; The Shema
Semi-continuous Ruth 1:1-18 Ruth remains with Naomi.
Both Hebrews 9:11-14 If the blood of goats and bulls sanctifies those who have been defiled, how much more will Christ's blood bring us redemption.
Both Mark 12:28-34 Jesus, asked which commandment is the greatest, answers, "The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."
Monday to Wednesday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 51 I have sinned against you. Create in me a clean heart.
Semi-continuous Psalm 18:20-30 It is you who light my lamp. God lights my darkness.
Monday: Reflection on the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 6:10-25 When you enter the land that God has promised you, do not put God to the test.
Semi-continuous Ruth 2:15-23 Ruth gleans in Boaz' fields during the wheat and barley harvests. Naomi says that Boaz is a close relative.
Both Romans 12:17-21; 13:8-10 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. The law is summed up in this word: love your neighbor as yourself.
Tuesday: Reflection on the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 28:58-29:1 The cost of disobedience
Semi-continuous Ruth 3:1-7 Ruth and Boaz are at the threshing floor at night.
Both Acts 7:17-29 Stephen, speaking before the Sanhedrin, recounts Moses' early years.
Wednesday: Reflection on the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Micah 6:1-8 Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
Semi-continuous Ruth 3:3-8 Boaz is startled by Ruth's presence on the threshing floor.
Both John 13:31-35 Jesus says, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."
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*Denominations have different ways of designating the weeks during the year, so your church may refer to this week by a different name or number or both. Regardless of the name or number, the readings are the same. Here is an explanation: Calendar Explanation
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 Sunday Gospel is taken from The Holy Bible Modern English Version (MEV), copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Image credit: The Good Samaritan by Rembrandt, via cs.m.wikipedia. This is a public domain image.