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Lectionary Notes for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B


Readings for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 9/9/12: 
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:
  • "a good name" - What does it mean these days to have a 'good name,' when perhaps there is less emphasis on family of origin=prestige than there once was? Do you have a good name? Who would you say has a good name?
  • "Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity" Can you think of times when you have been responsible for sowing injustice? I hope never to do so, but sometimes I'm afraid I don't sow anything at all instead.
  • "for the Lord pleads their cause" - Imagine God as your attorney, God as your advocate in a dispute or argument where you felt you were treated unfairly.
Psalm 125:
  • "so the Lord surrounds his people" - great imagery. What image would you use to describe God's protection of you? Do you feel protected?
  • "the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous" - another great image. Sometimes it seems that indeed some evil is on the land, the world, with all the fighting, war, injustice. But at heart, God is with us, and in us, and in our world.
  • :5 This verse expresses the psalmist's desire to see evildoers receive some sort of punishment. I think it is natural to seek and desire revenge in some ways, but I think that the 'peace' the psalmist asks for in the same verse only comes when we move beyond a desire to see those who have wronged us suffer.
James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17:
  • Perhaps we think issues of how people are dressed in worship were only issues in James' day. But we still often associate how one dresses for worship with how serious one is about God and discipleship.
  • :5 Like our text from Proverbs, here James highlights God's special relationship with the poor. Knowing how special those who are poor are to God, why can't we (I) seem to get more active at working for/with those who are poor?
  • :10 Sounds harsh, extreme, but James is saying: if you follow all the laws except one, but that one is the heart of the law, crucial to faith/righteousness - how much does the rest matter?
  • "law of liberty" - interesting phrase. Sounds constitutional, doesn't it?
  • "Can faith save you?" Hm. Many would say yes. James stands and says loudly, "yeah right!" Not without works to support the faith. What do you think?
  • "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill." Ah, too often our response to those in need.
Mark 7:24-37:
  • "Yet he could not escape notice." - No kidding. I can't imagine the stress of feeling constantly in demand. Really constantly, not just 'busy' like we are today. But how could they not come to one who was offering them so much?
  • The first part of this text is one we have a hard time dealing with. "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs" - A hard sentences to construct in a way flattering to Jesus. I don't have good answers. I don't want to explain away Jesus' words by trying to translate the Greek differently. Was Jesus just joking with the woman? I don't see it. What I see is a woman who is as persistent as the widow Jesus tells a parable about elsewhere in the gospels, and she receives her reward. And what I see is a Jesus who is focused on the mission he sees: to the Jews - who lets his own vision be expanded. The woman shows him a way to spread more grace.
  • Even with his resistance, we can be comforted that Jesus heard her out, and really listened, until he recognized great faith in one whom he did not expect to find it.
  • Check here for Chris Haslam's interesting interpretation of the deaf man described in the second part of this text.
  • ephphatha - what a word! "Be opened!" A commandment we might try to follow in many situations...
  • "he has done everything well." A sweet compliment, at last.

Comments

John W. McNeill said…
Maybe Jesus needs to be "opened" just like the deaf-mute needs to be opened. The S-P woman is able to do that. My take is that Mark's community needed to be opened to Gentiles. If Jesus could be opened up, they could too. Jesus is the example.
Beth Quick said…
I like that John - makes sense if we are always trying to imitate Jesus, right? Thanks for commenting ;)

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