Above: Convent at Mamre Near Hebron, Palestine (Abraham’s Oak), 1944
Image Source = Library of Congress
The Sunday Closest to July 20
Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
JULY 17, 2016
The Assigned Readings:
Amos 8:1-12 and Psalm 52
Genesis 18:1-10a and Psalm 15
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Proper 11, Year A:
Proper 11, Year B:
Prayer of Praise and Adoration:
Prayer of Confession:
Prayer of Dedication:
Divine promises turn our worlds upside-down and defy expectations.
Reconciliation, in Colossians 1, is related to justification, a legal concept. So God is the judge, each of us is the accused, and Jesus is the defense attorney. These are inexact metaphors, for
- Elsewhere in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is the defense attorney, and
- The judge is in cahoots with the defense attorney.
But there is more. In Christ our estrangement from God ends. And we have an avenue via Christ to end our estrangements from one another. Why not? If we love God, whom we cannot see, how then ought we to think about our fellow human beings, whom we can see? This is a noble and high vocation, one attainable by grace. And, if we strive yet fall short, God knows that we are but dust.
Such divine generosity requires an affirmative response. St. Mary of Bethany understood this, as did Abraham and Sarah (although the latter needed a little time to grasp it) before her. And one cannot respond affirmatively to God while exploiting people economically. Although Colossians 1 contains a promise of deliverance from sins via God, Amos 8 tells us of doom because of the sin of economic exploitation. The Law of Moses condemned such practices and mandated ways of helping the poor, yet some people manipulated it to make their exploitative deeds seem respectable and proper.
The Bible says more about money, greed, and economic exploitation than about sexual activities, yet many professing Christians are quicker to condemn aspects of the latter than of the former. I have also noticed that condemnations of the latter tend to be more vocal and visible than those of the former. If we who call ourselves Christians are to avoid rank hypocrisy, we ought to realize that many of us are invested in economic realities which place many others at an undue disadvantage. We ought to ask God to help us see or blind spots. We ought to be willing to confront the social structures which grant us advantages at the expense of others. And we ought not to settle for condemning just (or primarily) the low-hanging fruit. Then we will hear what God tells us because we will listen closely. And something unexpected will be born to us via divine power and bring us closer to God, the main agent of bringing about this reconciliation and justification.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
AUGUST 11, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY THAUMATURGUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NEOCAESAREA; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF COMANA “THE CHARCOAL BURNER,” ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR AND BISHOP OF COMANA, PONTUS
THE FEAST OF SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE POOR CLARES
THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, CARDINAL