Sunday, October 09, 2005

Proper 23, Year A, October 9

Liturgical color: greenLectionary and Tradition is a resource for sermon preparation, Bible study and lectio divina. This Sunday, Martin Luther, John Calvin and the Heidelberg Catechism on rejoicing and gentleness (Phil. 4:4-6)

Reading from Hebrew Scripture with Responsorial Psalm
Exodus 32:1-14 with Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23 or
Isaiah 25:1-9 with Psalm 23 and

Epistle
Philippians 4:1-9 and

Gospel
Matthew 22:1-14

Weekly Theme*
Pray and Rejoice

Focus statement*
“The Lord is near.”


[N]ot only is there a God; he is near. He will neither forget for forsake you. Only be gentle to all, and let God care for you; leave it to him how he is to support and protect you. Has he given you Christ the eternal treasure?... With him is much more than anyone can take from you.... [Y]ou possess in Christ more than is represented in all this world's goods. On this subject the psalmist says (Ps. 55:22): "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you," and Peter (I Pet. 5:7), "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." And Christ in the sixth chapter of Matthew points us to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. The thought of these passages is the same as the Lord is near.

Now follows, Do not worry about anything.

Take no thought for yourselves. Let God care for you. The one you now acknowledge is able to provide for you.... So let the whole world grasp, and deal unrighteously: you shall have enough. You shall not die of hunger or cold unless someone shall have deprived you of the God who cares for you. But who shall take him from you? How can you lose him unless you yourself let him go? We have a Father and Protector who holds in his hands all things, even those who, with all their possessions, would rob or injure us. Our duty is to rejoice always in God and be gentle toward all.... It should be our anxiety not to be anxious, to rejoice in God alone and to be kind to everyone.

Source: Martin Luther, Sermons, vol. 6, pp. 93-112. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983.

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Rejoice in the Lord always. Let this be your strength and stability: to rejoice in the Lord, and that, too, not just for a moment but so that your joy in him may be lasting. For unquestionably it differs from the joy of the world in this respect—that we know from experience that the joy of the world is deceptive, frail and fading, and Christ even pronounces it to be accursed (Luke 6:25). Hence, that only is a settled joy in God which is such as is never taken away from us.

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. This may be explained in two ways. We may understand [Paul] as bidding [the Philippians] to give up their right rather than that anyone should have occasion to complain of their sharpness or severity: "Let all that have to deal with you have experience of your equity and humanity." In this way to know will mean to experience. Or we may understand him as exhorting them to endure all things with equanimity. This latter meaning I rather prefer, for to epieikes is a term that is made use of by the Greeks themselves to denote moderation of spirit—when we are not easily moved by injuries, when we are not easily annoyed by adversity, but retain equanimity of temper. In accordance with this, Cicero makes use of the following expression: "My mind is tranquil, which takes everything in good part." Such equanimity—which is as it were the mother of patience—he requires here on the part of the Philippians, and, indeed, such as will manifest itself to all, according as occasion will require, by producing its proper effects.

The Lord is at hand. Here we have an anticipation by which [Paul] obviates an objection that might be brought forward. For carnal sense rises in opposition to the foregoing statement. For as the rage of the wicked is the more inflamed in proportion to our gentleness, and the more they see us prepared for enduring, are the more emboldened to inflict injuries, we are with difficulty induced to possess our souls in patience (Luke 21:19). Hence those proverbs: "We must howl when among wolves" [and] "those who act like sheep will quickly be devoured by wolves." Hence we conclude that the ferocity of the wicked must be repressed by corresponding violence, that they may not insult us with impunity.

To such considerations Paul here opposes confidence in divine providence. He replies, I say, that the Lord is near, that his power can overcome their audacity, that his goodness can conquer their malice. He promises that he will aid us, provided we obey his commandment. Now, who would not rather be protected by the hand of God alone than have all the resources of the world at his command? Here we have a most beautiful sentiment, from which we learn, in the first place, that ignorance of the providence of God is the cause of all impatience, and that this is the reason why we are so quickly, and on trivial accounts, thrown into confusion, and often, too, become disheartened because we do not recognise the fact that the Lord cares for us. On the other hand, we learn that this is the only remedy for quieting our minds—when we repose unreservedly in his providential care, knowing that we are not exposed either to the rashness of fortune or to the caprice of the wicked but are under the regulation of God's fatherly care. To put it simply, when you are in possession of this truth, that God is present with you, you have what you may rest upon with security.

Source: John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. XXI, pp. 116-118. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998.

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What is God's will for you in the sixth commandment?

I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor—
not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture,
and certainly not by actual deeds—
and I am not to be party to this in others;
rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.

I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either....

Does this commandment refer only to killing?

By forbidding murder God teaches us
that he hates the root of murder:
envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.
In God's sight all such are murder.

Is it enough then that we do not kill our neighbor in any such way?

No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger
God tells us
to love our neighbors as ourselves,
to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,
merciful, and friendly to them,
to protect them from harm as much as we can,
and to do good even to our enemies.

Source: Heidelberg Catechism, Christian Reformed Church in North America.

*The Weekly Theme and Focus Statement are from the ecumenical "Seasons of the Spirit" lectionary-based curriculum and preaching resource.

Return to lectionary readings for this Sunday

Other lectionary preaching and study resources

Buy Sermons of Martin Luther
Buy Calvin's Commentaries
Revised Common Lectionary weekly texts
The Text This Week
Lectionary Thoughts from the Early Church
Deacon Sil's Homiletic Resources
SAMUEL (Scripture and Memory: Universal Electronic Library)
Revised Common Lectionary FAQs

4 Comments:

At 12:37 AM, Blogger Andy Lang said...

Would you like to use this space to share your own reflections on the readings for this Sunday? Go ahead: we'd like to hear from you.

 
At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Jim Gorman said...

Thanks for this Andy. What a great way to get into the Heidelberg Catechism! At my church I'm constitutionally obliged to teach from the HC and have only done a cursory scan of it. This is awefully good on the commandment prohibiting killing.

 
At 2:19 PM, Blogger Charles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:27 PM, Blogger Charles said...

(re-posted to correct typo and doubtless insert another)

Andrew, you might enjoy my websites,

http://www.lectiodivinae.com and
http://www.lectiodivinae.blogspot.com.

I look forward to spending time over this site to understand your interpretation of lectio.

As for the readings, you can see my quick study here.

I treat lectio as a four-step cycle, which may be repeated as desired. On the intellectual part of the cycle, I look at the thematic context of a passage, the original language, cultural/historical issues, and at unusual turns of phrase. As a simple example of the latter, Why does Paul use "Therefore" to open the Phillipians?

Peace and joy... and lots and lots of blue

 

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