Lectionary Preview study materials: Pentecost 5
(study on 23 June)
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.
David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan. (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.) He said:
Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.
You mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor bounteous fields!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.
From the blood of the slain,
from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
nor the sword of Saul return empty.
Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,
who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
How the mighty have fallen
in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful,
passing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war perished!
1 Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice; *
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
2 If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, *
O Lord, who could stand?
3 For there is forgiveness with you; *
therefore you shall be feared.
4 I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; *
in his word is my hope.
5 My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning, *
more than watchmen for the morning.
6 O Israel, wait for the Lord, *
for with the Lord there is mercy;
7 With him there is plenteous redemption, *
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
As you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you– so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,
“The one who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have too little.”
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Pentecost 5 June 27, 2021 Brian B. Pinter
RCL: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
David models for us how to express grief as a community. Israel had lost its king and David had lost Jonathan, the man he loved. It was a time for public grief, for weeping (v. 24). David delivered a beautiful poem that names the hurts and expresses the sense of loss that had descended upon his people. (The compilers note that this eulogy was preserved in the book of Jashar, a now-lost collection that celebrated the heroic deeds of the Israelites.) David revealed his wisdom as a man and a leader – he intuits that his nation cannot move forward until it has sufficiently grieved this loss. His people are heartbroken, but the journey of grieving together will make them strong at the broken places.
The Franciscan spiritual writer Richard Rohr teaches, “Pain that is not transformed will be transmitted.” When suppressed, emotional and spiritual wounds will bleed out in destructive ways. Intentional, communal grief work, however, creates a container wherein we face collective pain, and together cooperate with God’s transforming grace. While harrowing, communal grieving is a pathway to healing. This will be especially important as we emerge from the experience of Covid-19, continue to grapple with the unhealed wounds from violence perpetrated against our African American sisters and brothers, and face the unresolved divisions that have persisted among us since the Civil War. David teaches us from across the centuries how to approach the indispensable spiritual task of grieving.
- What might we need to grieve, personally and collectively, so that we can journey toward healing?
- What can David’s poetry teach us about grieving?
I once had a conversation with my spiritual director about what it means for God to be “all-powerful.” In the face of so much injustice and suffering in the world, it is hard to believe in an all-powerful God, I said. My director responded that God is all-powerful in love and mercy. These simple but incisive thoughts might help orient us as we reflect on Psalm 130.
The psalmist begins with a cry from “the depths” (ma‘amaqqim in Hebrew, de profundis in Latin.) The term connotes chaos, destruction, devastation, and death. Finding God in such circumstances speaks to a great spiritual theme of our tradition – God is found in the brokenness of life, symbolized in a man nailed to a cross. A testament to the mercy and goodness of God is that such times that we see as a total failure and dead-end, God can use toward our transformation. As the late Leonard Cohen sang, “There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.” As is the case with many of us, this psalmist found God when he/she hit rock bottom!
Our verses also model for us an honest confrontation with sinfulness, with failings. The first step on the journey of transformation is an honest self-assessment. It is a part of human experience that we will fail; we will hurt others; we will do wrong. A true mark of a spiritually maturing person is an ability to humbly acknowledge our sins before God, ask for forgiveness, and atone, if possible. Related to this is the acknowledgment that we can’t do this alone. As our psalmist says, with the Lord is “mercy… and plenteous redemption.”
- How have you experienced God’s all-powerfulness in love and mercy?
2 Corinthians 8:7,9, 13-15
The context of our reading from 2 Corinthians is Paul’s appeal for the collection he is taking up for the mother church in Jerusalem. This was a significant concern for him, as he had a fractious relationship with the leadership of that church. Despite their differences, Paul wanted to show solidarity with them.
Paul’s appeal is straightforward and reads like a good fundraising letter! He admires the Corinthians’ excellence in other areas; surely they will excel in giving as well. Then he appeals to the example of Jesus – he gave most generously for them and it is time to pay it forward. Finally, Paul finds a parallel from Israel’s past – Exodus 16:18 – which he uses as a maxim, “Those who gathered much had nothing over…”
We can interpret Paul’s words as a call to reciprocity and care. In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul made it clear that the church had been made rich because God chose to share all things with them (1 Cor 3:21-23). This is a larger theme of the First Testament – “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1). This is a powerful critique our world needs to hear – this world that seems to be obsessed with “what is mine,” whether wealth, possessions, land, food, water, resources, etc. None of it is “mine” – it’s all for the common good.
- How do you interpret Paul’s admonition for those with abundance to share so that there may be equality?
Ministry often happens in the interruptions! We might have our plans and agendas, but life will interrupt, calling us to put those aside. The most meaningful, impactful moments come as interruptions, surprises, unexpected moments that become doorways of empathy and grace.
The author of Mark’s Gospel uses a technique here called intercalation – the use of one passage to interpret another. Notice how skillfully Mark has woven together the story of the daughter of Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage. Both are “daughters”, both seek assistance, they are at opposite and parallel ends of the economic hierarchy, one woman is old, the other young, and the 12-year-old daughter was born when the woman’s hemorrhage began.
The bleeding woman is healed on two levels. First, her physical ailment is cured. Second, she is restored to right relationship with the community. Her issue of blood would have made her unclean and separated her from others. Jesus calls her “daughter”, signifying that her connection to the community has been restored. African American commentators have noted the boldness of the woman in approaching Jesus and how female leaders of the Black community have often been compelled to act bravely in efforts to bring about change. For example, Phillis Wheatley wrote poetry that captured the attention of Thomas Jefferson and other White men of influence; Sojourner Truth challenged male-only suffrage among Black people; Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Like the woman with the hemorrhage, they all boldly broke major social barriers in their work of bringing wholeness and transformation.
- Where have you experienced grace in moments of “interruption”?
Brian B. Pinter is a teacher of religious studies at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx and a Pastoral Associate at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan.