Sunday, June 12, 2022

2 Pentecost 2022 (Proper 7C) Readings with Commentary

 The Collect of the Day

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1st Reading (Track 1):  1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a

The prophet Elijah has just defeated and destroyed the prophets of Baal, the god whom King Ahab of Israel and Jezebel, his queen, worship. Jezebel promises revenge, so Elijah flees into the wilderness and is miraculously fed, the Lord ignoring his fear and his plea for death. What happens to Elijah in the wilderness and on the mountain is parallels things that happened to Moses, raising Elijah’s status among the prophets of the Lord (see the Transfiguration story in the gospels, such as Luke 9:28-26). The Hebrew in verse 12 is very difficult, hence some translations read “still small voice.” Silence is probably more correct. Elijah reiterates his despair, which the Lord again ignores, saying only, “Go back.” Mission trumps fear.

19:1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

[5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”]

8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. 9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus.

Psalms 42 & 43 (Track 1)

Many ancient Hebrew manuscripts have these two psalms as one. Roman Catholic English translations tend to do the same. That they are a unit is testified to by the common refrain at 42:6-7, 14-15 & 43:5-6. Together they form a prayer by a person in crisis. The refrain is unique in that it is a dialogue with the self. Psalms 42 & 43 also have a clear liturgical context. The movement is from private grief to communal hope.

1 As the deer longs for the water-brooks, *
        so longs my soul for you, O God.

2 My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; *
        when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

3 My tears have been my food day and night, *
        while all day long they say to me, “Where now is your God?”

4 I pour out my soul when I think on these things: *
        how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God,

5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, *
        among those who keep holy-day.

6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
        and why are you so disquieted within me?

7 Put your trust in God; *
    for I will yet give thanks to him,
        who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

8 My soul is heavy within me; *
        therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan,
        and from the peak of Mizar among the heights of Hermon.

9 One deep calls to another in the noise of your cataracts; *
        all your rapids and floods have gone over me.

10 The Lord grants his loving-kindness in the daytime; *
        in the night season his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

11 I will say to the God of my strength, “Why have you forgotten me? *
        and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?”

12 While my bones are being broken, *
        my enemies mock me to my face;

13 All day long they mock me *
        and say to me, “Where now is your God?”

14 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
        and why are you so disquieted within me?

15 Put your trust in God; *
        for I will yet give thanks to him,
        who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

1 Give judgment for me, O God,
   and defend my cause against an ungodly people; *
        deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.

2 For you are the God of my strength; why have you put me from you? *
        and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?

3 Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, *
        and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;

4 That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; *
        and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

5 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
        and why are you so disquieted within me?

6 Put your trust in God; *
        for I will yet give thanks to him,
        who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

1st Reading (Track 2):  Isaiah 65:1-9

Chapters 56-66 of Isaiah are often called “Third Isaiah,” because they come from a time distinct from the earlier chapters. “First Isaiah,” chapters 1-39, are prior to the Babylonian exile. “Second Isaiah,” 40-55, are from the end of the exile. “Third Isaiah” is after the return.  Chapter 64 was a plea for God to reveal himself in power as in the days of old (64:1:  “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down”).  Our passage this morning is God’s answer.  It is not God who has been silent, but the people, with their backs to him as they worship other gods.  Yet God is prepared to bless a remnant.

65:1 [The Lord spoke,] I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. 2 I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; 4 who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; 5 who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. 6 See, it is written before me:  I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps 7 their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions. 8 Thus says the Lord:  As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all. 9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there.

Psalm 22:18-27 (Track 2)

Psalm 22 is a lament, a cry for help.  Because of its beginning (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) it has long been associated with Good Friday.  In this section, the psalmist speaks of the depths of his illness and promises to offer prayers of thanks in the Temple upon his recovery.

18 Be not far away, O Lord; *
        you are my strength; hasten to help me.

19 Save me from the sword, *
        my life from the power of the dog.

20 Save me from the lion’s mouth, *
        my wretched body from the horns of wild bulls.

21 I will declare your Name to my brethren; *
        in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

22 Praise the Lord, you that fear him; *
        stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
        all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.

23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
    neither does he hide his face from them; *
        but when they cry to him he hears them.

24 My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
        I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
    and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: *
        “May your heart live for ever!”

26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, *
        and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.

27 For kingship belongs to the Lord; *
        he rules over the nations.

2nd Reading:  Galatians 3:23-29

In the portion of chapter 3 that proceeds these verses, Paul speaks quite harshly to the Galatians (v. 1:  “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”) and presses his argument that justification by faith is not a new doctrine, but one as old as Abraham.  The law cannot make people righteous but acts like a disciplinarian.  Without the law we could not recognize our transgressions.  But now our faith, sealed in baptism, makes all one in Christ Jesus and inheritors of the promise to Abraham.

3:23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 8:26-39

In chapter 8, Jesus has been teaching from town to town in Galilee, including the Parable of the Sower (8:4-15), a saying about letting your light shine (16-18) and a pronouncement that Jesus’ “mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (19-21). He decides then to cross the Sea of Galilee to the country of the Gerasenes. This is Gentile territory, an odd destination for a Jewish teacher.  What happens there is also odd.  There are demons who call themselves “legion” (a word, of course, used by the Roman occupiers), pigs (an animal unclean for Jews), and a man returned to sanity who wishes to follow Jesus but is sent away, as is Jesus, after causing economic instability.

8:26 [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

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. The Collect of the Day and the translation of the Psalm are from The Book of Common Prayer. Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany Esources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved. Permission is with subscription given to copy for group study.

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