Monday, September 23, 2019

16 Pentecost 2019, Proper 21C Readings & Commentaries

The parable today a story about the great reversal of which Mary sang back in chapter 1.

1st Reading (Track 1):  Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
The book of Jeremiah contains sections of interpreted history, around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people of Judah into Babylon. Our reading today takes place during the reign of Zedekiah (597—586 b.c.e.). Zedekiah was a puppet king of the Babylonians, although his attempted revolt in 586 led to the final destruction of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was under house arrest under Zedekiah. The story of Jeremiah’s purchase of his cousin’s property in his hometown of Anathoth may seem to be an odd piece of private history stuck into the biblical text. Its purpose, however, is to witness that the land will always belong to Israel. This story is a word of hope in the midst of disaster.

32:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, 3a where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.: Then I knew that this was the word of the LordAnd I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; 12 and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13 In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, 14 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:  Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. 15 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:  Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 (Track 1)
Psalm 91 is a psalm of trust in God, a plea for protection from deadly foes. Verses 14-16, at the end of the psalm, are a response from God to the writer. Note the seven first person singular verbs:  I will…deliver… with in trouble…rescue…
bring honor…satisfy and show.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *
              abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 He shall say to the Lord, “You are my refuge and my stronghold, *
              my God in whom I put my trust.”
3 He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *
              and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with his pinions,
   and you shall find refuge under his wings; *
              his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, *
              nor of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, *
              nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
14 Because he is bound to me in love, therefore will I deliver him; *
              I will protect him, because he knows my Name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; *
              I am with him in trouble;
              I will rescue him and bring him to honor.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, *
              and show him my salvation.

1st Reading (Track 2):  Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Amos prophesied during the long and peaceful reign in Israel (the northern kingdom) of Jeroboam II (786-746 b.c.e.). He was not a professional prophet, but a shepherd from the small village of Tekoa. He was called from that agrarian vocation to deliver harsh words in a time of plenty. The time of plenty, however, was only for some and they ignored the plight of the poor. Disaster (including exile) would indeed come upon the northern kingdom soon with the arrival of the Assyrians (720 b.c.e.). The northern kingdom would be utterly destroyed, never to rise again, and those taken into captivity would become the “lost tribes” of the House of Israel.

6:1a Alas for those who are at ease in Zion! Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Psalm 146 (Track 2)
Psalm 146 begins the concluding section of the psalms (146-150). This psalm praises God who is the creator of his people and their savior from oppression and hunger. The allusion is to the Exodus story, but it is also an excellent response to our first reading.

1 Hallelujah! 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.

2nd Reading:  1 Timothy 6:6-19
The writer of 1 Timothy has just condemned teachers of the faith who anticipate financial gain from their teaching. Now he moves on to the larger problem of wealth for the Christian. Desiring wealth, he indicates, is folly. Wealth is an extraordinary test of faith; those who have it tend to think of it as their salvation. He then speaks to Timothy directly and offers a positive challenge. Finally, he offers hope for the rich:  this is how to do good if you have wealth.

6:6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 16:19-31
Jesus has said (16:13) that you cannot serve God and wealth. He then tells us (16:14) that the Pharisees ridiculed him for saying this. He accuses them of seeking to justify themselves in the sight of others (16:15) and warns them that God knows their hearts. Then comes the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The teaching is clear and has been throughout Luke’s Gospel. This is a story about the great reversal of which Mary sang back in chapter 1: “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” (1:52-53).

16:19 [Jesus said to the Pharisees,] “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—28 for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

The Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. The translation of the Psalm is from The Book of Common Prayer. Commentaries are copyright © 2019 Epiphany Esources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.  Permission is given to copy for group study. Bulletin inserts are available. Go to our website for more information.  And like us on Facebook!

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