The Collect of the Day
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in out time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Our first reading is the authorization of prophets in the life of Israel. They will be “like Moses” in that they will be intermediaries, for the people cannot bear to hear the word of God directly. Also, like Moses, they will speak words from God and about the God of Israel, which is one way to tell whether they are authentic or not. It became an expectation among Jews that God would one day send “a prophet like Moses,” which some project onto John the Baptist, and others, Jesus.
18:15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. 16 This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” 17 Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19 Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20 But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”
Our psalm is a song of praise to the God of the covenant who is gracious and merciful, faithful, and just. In Hebrew it is an acrostic poem, with each succeeding line beginning with a subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, *
i n the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the deeds of the Lord! *
they are studied by all who delight in them.
3 His work is full of majesty and splendor, *
and his righteousness endures for ever.
4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered; *
the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
5 He gives food to those who fear him; *
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works *
in giving them the lands of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice; *
all his commandments are sure.
8 They stand fast for ever and ever, *
because they are done in truth and equity.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he commanded his covenant for ever; *
holy and awesome is his Name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
those who act accordingly have a good understanding; *
his praise endures for ever.
Reading First Corinthians as a whole, it is clear some in that community believed they had attained a higher level of spiritual knowledge and, therefore, the right to instruct the community. Paul quotes some of their frequent sayings. He offers a mild rebuke and then uses the question of whether it is right for Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols to teach about the responsibility of the individual to the community. Freedom, yes, but it is freedom responsible in community. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.
We have been told a few verses earlier that Jesus’ principal message was “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” After calling some disciples, Jesus continues this teaching, which people receive as having authority (or power) unlike anything they have heard from their usual teachers. He then enacts this power in his first exorcism/healing. The demons of oppression cannot withstand the kingdom that is at hand.
The Scripture quotations (except for the Psalm) 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. All rights reserved. The Collect and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer. Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, www.epiphanyesources.com , copyright © 2021. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study with this attribution.