Lectionary Preview study materials: Pentecost 15 (5 september)
(Study on 1 september)
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
James 2:1-10, [11-13], 14-17
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favour is better than silver or gold.
The rich and the poor have this in common:
the Lord is the maker of them all.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fail.
Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.
Do not rob the poor because they are poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate;
for the Lord pleads their cause
and despoils of life those who despoil them.
1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, *
which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.
2 The hills stand about Jerusalem; *
so does the Lord stand round about his people,
from this time forth for evermore.
3 The scepter of the wicked shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the just, *
so that the just shall not put their hands to evil.
4 Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good *
and to those who are true of heart.
5 As for those who turn aside to crooked ways,
the Lord will lead them away with the evildoers; *
but peace be upon Israel.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
Lauda, anima mea
Praise the Lord, O my soul! *
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
7 The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; *
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
8 The Lord loves the righteous;
the Lord cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9 The Lord shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
James 2:1-10, [11-13], 14-17
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.[ For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.]
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
Pentecost 15 September 5, 2021 Paul White
RCL: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-10, [11-13], 14-17; Mark 7:24-37
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
The reading from Proverbs tells us that we have a common heritage in the Lord. The reading describes the behavior and attitude we are called to exhibit towards one another. This attitude is also expressed in our Baptismal Covenant, as we commit to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving [our] neighbor as [ourselves]” (BCP, p. 305). The proverb warns us not to sow injustice but to be generous and share our bread with those without bread. The Baptismal Covenant calls us to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being” (BCP, p. 305).
- Does this theme of justice and respect for others appear in other passages of the Hebrew scriptures?
- What actions do we take personally and as a community of faith to live out this common heritage as described in the Baptismal Covenant?
Psalm 125 expands on the theme of justice expressed in the Proverbs reading. The psalmist suggests that the happy (or blessed) person places trust in the Lord as creator of heaven and earth. The Lord is the source of justice and invites those who claim him as Lord to be agents of justice and to care for the poor, the stranger, the orphaned, and the widowed.
- How do you understand the meaning of happy or blessed?
- Who is the stranger in your community?
James 2: 1-10, (11-13), 14-17
The epistle reading goes to the heart of the behavior of the community. It seems that there is a problem with the rich being welcomed and treated favorably at the assembly while the poor are not as welcome. James tells them that they are making “distinctions” damaging to the faith community. The reading echoes Jesus’ teaching and that of the Torah: to love God and your neighbor as yourself. The reading today ends with James advising the community that to be a credible witness, they need to express faith in action.
- Do you agree with James that we are to be a welcoming community?
- Does the reading from James relate to the Proverbs reading and to Psalm 125?
The gospel today locates Jesus away from Jerusalem in Tyre. He attempts to be unnoticed and wants to keep a low profile. However, his presence is discovered and a Syrophoenician woman seeks an exorcism for her daughter. Jesus seems dismissive as they banter about food for the children and scraps that fall from the table for the dogs to eat. Jesus understands his ministry first to the children of Israel, not to the Gentiles. The Gentiles are to participate in the new creation, but that would only follow after the message had been spread in Israel. Matthew’s account of this encounter records Jesus’ response as acknowledging her great faith. Jesus, recognizing her faith, heals her daughter.
The second miracle, the deaf man with a speech impediment, is one that takes place privately. Jesus wishes to continue his work in anonymity. He heals the deaf man and instructs him tell no one. But as Jesus insists on silence, the man and others who are aware of what has happened go out and tell everyone they meet. The people’s excitement concerning Jesus’ power takes precedence over his demand for secrecy; the accounts of Jesus’ healing ministry are spreading beyond Jerusalem.
- The exorcism is performed at a distance, but in the second healing, Jesus touches the man’s ear, spits, and touches his tongue. Do you attach any significance to the difference – that is, from a distance or up-close and personal?
- Why might Jesus desire privacy and silence regarding the healing in the second miracle?
Paul White is in his senior year at the Iona School of Ministry in the Diocese of Texas. He and his wife, Marianne, have five children, five grandchildren, and two more grandchildren on the way. He is a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans and the LSU School of Graduate Studies in New Orleans.