Watching for the morning of February 23
The Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
Sunday we continue with Jesus’ exposition of the Torah, God’s commands and teaching for Israel’s life together. We hear the rich legacy of Leviticus that calls Israel to be a holy people as God is holy, a proper vessel for God’s presence among them – and for God’s witness to the world. Again we hear from the magisterial psalm 119 celebrating God’s law, listening to the voice of the psalmist yearn for God to lead him in God’s way. Paul reminds us that the Christian community is the temple of God, the dwelling of God on earth. And Jesus extends the command to love your neighbor to all people, even enemies. Such love is not a sentimental emotion, but a courageous determination to regard all people as members of your own household – and to help them see you in the same way.
The Prayer for February 23, 2014
you call us to love not just our friends but our enemies,
to show kindness not just to family but to strangers,
to see all people as members of one human family
even as you have look upon us all as your children.
May our hearts be shaped by your heart,
and our spirits by your Spirit,
that we might be truly human
as your Son Jesus was truly human.
The Texts for February 23, 2014
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
“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.” – From this section of Leviticus known as the Holiness Code God calls the people to be a community that reflects the character of God, showing justice and mercy. Here, Jesus finds the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Psalmody: Psalm 119:33-40
“Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end.” – As we continue with the Sermon on the Mount, we read again from the magisterial acrostic psalm 119 that celebrates the Torah/law/teaching of God
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” – Paul continues his re-education of his troubled congregation about the fundamental importance of their life as a community.
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Jesus continues his exposition of the commandments, taking up the command in Leviticus to “love your neighbor” and transforming the law of revenge.