Above: The Logo of Lehman Brothers, Now Defunct
Loving Our Neighbors As We Love Ourselves
The Sunday Closest to October 26
Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
OCTOBER 26, 2014
OCTOBER 29, 2017
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #1
Deuteronomy 34:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):
Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the LORD showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain– that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees– as far as Zoar. The LORD said to him,
This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, `I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.
Then Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, at the LORD’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.
Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to another.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the land and the earth were born,
from age to age you are God.
You turn us back to the dust and say,
“Go back, O child of earth.”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past
and like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep us away like a dream;
we fade away suddenly like the grass.
6 In the morning it is green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?
be gracious to your servants.
14 Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning;
so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
15 Make us glad with the measure of the days that you afflicted us
and the years in which we suffered adversity.
16 Show your servants your works
and your splendor to their children.
17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;
prosper the work of our hands;
prosper our handiwork.
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #2
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 (New Revised Standard Version):
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Psalm 1 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
2 Their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and the meditate on his law day and night.
3 They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither,
everything they do shall prosper.
4 It is not so with the wicked;
they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the ways of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked is doomed.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (New Revised Standard Version):
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
Matthew 22:34-46 (New Revised Standard Version):
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
There was a notoriously violent slave master in the Antebellum U.S. South. This man also claimed to be a good Christian. Indeed, he attended church frequently and bore the nickname “Deacon.” One of Deacon’s slaves left a written testament in which he claimed not to want to go to Heaven if Deacon was going to be there.
Many of us are aware of the Golden Rule and the Shema. We quote them and make warm and positive statements about the Good Samaritan. Yet how often do we act to the contrary and/or justify those who do? Do we really believe our excuses or are we trying to convince ourselves of that which we know to be immoral?
And how much better off would the rest of us be if certain people in some corporations valued the common good more than short-term profits?
This is a very basic topic–one I have covered elsewhere, as the links testify. So, in the name of not repeating myself too many times, I conclude with these words: Whatever the cost(s) to ourselves, may we love our neighbors as ourselves.
Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on May 11, 2011