First my heart

File:Ship of Desert.jpgWatching for the Morning of October 14, 2018

Year B

The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 23 / Lectionary 28

I don’t know how – or whether – our guest preacher on Sunday will weave together the cry of Job with the startling statement by Jesus that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” I am eager to hear.

It is painful to hear Job’s lament. If only he could speak with God, God would surely declare him innocent. But God is nowhere to be found: “If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.”

It is the cry of all who face life’s tragedies. It must be that God is just and faithful, yet here are all these innocents locked in cages, buried in mud, dead on the shore, cut down by random violence or bitter war. Here is the bitterness of a world of lies that go undenied and uncondemned. Here are the tears of the broken and fears of the beaten.

It must be that God is just and faithful, but where is he? If only we could plead our case, would God not set right the world?

That path from the cry of Job to the prayer of the psalm to the promise of Jesus that the first shall be last and the last first is far from simple. It is about God setting right the world. But, first, it is about God setting right the human heart.

Mark doesn’t tell us at first that the man who approached Jesus asking, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” had many possessions. He is just a man. He is like any of us. He is all of us. And the challenge Jesus sets before him, he sets before us all. “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” For we all have our many possessions. We all have things in which we place our trust, convictions we depend on, little lies and deceits that comfort our souls. And the most insidious deceit is that I am better than – better than the rich, the poor, the addicted, the corrupt, the thoughtless, the cold of heart, the smug – and that, whoever “they” are, they are not really my neighbor.

“You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

God will set right the world. But, first, God must set right my heart.

The Prayer for October 14, 2018

In your kingdom, O God,
all find shelter and all are fed.
May your Spirit reign among us
that, abiding in your goodness,
we may live with joyful and generous hearts;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for October 14, 2018

First Reading: Job 23:1-9, 16-17
“If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.” – Job cries out at the silence and hiddenness of God.

Psalmody: Psalm 90 (appointed 90:12-17)
“Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”
– The poet meditates on the brevity and sorrows of human life, rooted as they are in humanity’s sinfulness. The poet bids God grant them a proper humility, but also asks God to have mercy and deal with us according to his faithfulness and love.

Second Reading: Hebrews 4:12-16
“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”
– God knows and will reveal the heart, but the author also declares that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,” and urges his hearers to “approach the throne of grace with boldness.”

Gospel: Mark 10:17-31
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – A man comes up to Jesus asking how he can inherit the kingdom of God (be among those to enjoy the age to come when God rules over all). But when Jesus summons him to sell his possessions, give to the poor and come, follow Jesus, he turns away. And Jesus comments on how difficult it is for the wealthy to start living the kingdom. Fortunately, “for God all things are possible.”

First Reading as appointed: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
“Because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them.” – In the 8th century BCE, during the reign of Jereboam II, the northern kingdom of Israel grew rich but failed to live God’s justice and mercy. As Assyria rises to power, the prophet Amos cries out against the nation’s failure, warning them of the coming catastrophe, and urging them to turn and live.

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Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ship_of_Desert.jpg By Suvophy06 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

All

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Watching for the Morning of September 9, 2018

Year B

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The ideas about clean and unclean continue in our Gospel this Sunday, only now it is not clean hands that are at stake – and the unclean Judeans among those who follow Jesus. Now it is about those outside the community of Israel: a woman of Tyre and a man in the region of the Decapolis. The woman is clearly identified as a Greek. An evil spirit holds her daughter – an “unclean” spirit. The man is unable to hear or speak; he cannot hear the word or speak God’s praise.

Jesus has gone intentionally to the region of Tyre. From there to the region of Sidon then to the region of the Decapolis. Tyre and Sidon are ancient Phoenician cities.   With the ten towns of the Decapolis they enjoy special privilege as free cities of the empire. Their allegiance to Greek culture and Roman rule is ancient and strong. Tyre and Sidon are ancient seaports and wealthy trading centers. It was the King of Tyre who had the cedar and skills to build King David a palace, and Solomon a temple. It was a daughter of Sidon, Jezebel, who sought to kill the prophets and make Baal the god of Israel. She taught Ahab the ways of true power, arranging for the murder of Naboth to gain his vineyard. Of Tyre the prophet Ezekiel would declare, you have said, ‘I am a god; I sit in the seat of the gods,” as he announces God’s coming judgment.

These are not the people who deserve God’s favors.

Nor are those in the region of the Decapolis. Mark’s community lives in the throes of the Roman armies marching against Jerusalem’s rebellion, when the cities of the Decapolis would show their allegiance to Rome by expelling or killing their Judean residents.

But Jesus has gone to these places on purpose. He has gone to these “unclean” people on purpose.

Our readings on Sunday will accent the theme of deliverance and healing. And that is what we find in the Gospel account. Isaiah will speak hope to the exiles declaring that “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped,” and “the tongue of the speechless sing for joy” as God leads them out from bondage. The psalmist will sing that, “The LORD sets the prisoners free,” and lifts up those who are bowed down.” But the anointing and prayer for healing that we might expect from James awaits another day. James will speak to our favoritism, the special treatment accorded to some (the wealthy) while marginalizing others. And this will bring us closer to the heart of the Gospel. For the narrative in Mark describes more than healing, it describes Jesus healing those outside the community of Israel. Jesus brings the gifts of God to those Israel regarded as unclean. Jesus even compares the woman of Tyre with the dogs of the street.

The gifts of God are for all. As we heard last Sunday, the things that render us unclean are not external things but what comes from the heart, the things we say and do that betray mercy and faithfulness. We will hear this again and again in the New Testament – especially in the book of Acts when God says to Peter, What God has made clean, you must not call unclean.” There are no ‘unclean’. The gifts of God are for all.

The Prayer for September 9, 2018

Father of all,
whose ears are open to the cries of every people:
drive out every power of evil,
and open every ear to hear and abide in your Word of life;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for September 9, 2018

First Reading: Isaiah 35:3-7a (appointed: 4-7a)
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.” – The prophet announces God’s impending deliverance of the nation from their exile in Babylon and their joyful journey home.

Psalmody: Psalm 146
“The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down…The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow.”
– The poet praises the LORD, a God who comes to the aid of those in need.

Second Reading: James 2:1-17
“My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?”
– The author challenges the community not to show favoritism towards the wealthy but to “fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Gospel: Mark 7:24-37
“A woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin.” – Following his teaching about what does and doesn’t render a person “unclean”, Jesus travels in foreign territory and heals two who are “unclean” (outside the covenant of Israel): the daughter of a Syrophoenician and a man from the Gentile region of the Decapolis.

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Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cristo_e_la_cananea_di_Alessandro_Allori_detail.jpg Alessandro Allori [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“The prudent will keep silent”

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Early Christian Martyrs: Polycarp, Vincent of Saragossa, Pancras of Rome, and Saint Chrysogonus

Sunday Evening

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15

10They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth….
13Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.

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Early Christian Martyr, St. Perpetua

We all know there are times its best to keep your mouth shut. And though the United States has a tradition of a more or less free speech – free speech we don’t tolerate well when it burns flags, or criticizes the nation, speaks up about injustice or opposes a war – we understand the principle, at least. Monarchies and dictatorships have much less room for unregulated speech. Jeremiah’s message gets him ‘arrested’ and thrown into a the mud at the bottom of an empty cistern – ‘arrested’ in quotes because it implies a judicial procedure rather than the SS knocking at your door in the night…or, rather, not knocking.

There are times to keep your mouth shut: when the powers that be are against you, when the mood of the country is against you, when the nation has set itself on a destructive path (The March of Folly), when “it is an evil time”.

But listening to this reading in worship this morning I realized the irony that though the prophet declares he lives in a time when “the prudent will keep silent”– he, himself, is not silent. He dares to name the injustice of his day. He dares to challenge the ruling powers. He dares to challenge the dominant ideology, declaring that God is not on their side.

After David has contrived to murder Uriah to cover his affair with Bathsheba, Nathan comes to the king with a parable that incites the king’s wrath at an injustice by a man of wealth and power – and then points his long bony finger at the king and says, “You are the man.” It is evidence of David’s sincere faith that Nathan survives.

When the worship of Baal (god of the storm) became the practice of the monarchy in Israel, Elijah announced that the LORD would send no rain. During the famine, Elijah was forced to hide in the wadi of the river Jabbok – and then outside the country in the home of the widow of Zarephath. The king called him “my enemy” and accused him of being the source of the nations trouble. The Queen sought to kill him (and all the prophets of the LORD).

At the command of the king, Zechariah was stoned to death in the temple courtyard.

And, of course, Jesus is crucified.

So, when Jesus bids us take up the cross, there is a rich lineage of prophets and martyrs to share our journey, from Polycarp and Perpetua & Felicity to Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaking the truth in love, decidedly. But daring to speak truth nonetheless. They recognized the time, but answered the call to not be prudent.

 

Polycarp, Vincent of Saragossa, Pancras of Rome, and Saint Chrysogonus.  Image: By at Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Pagelink:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APolycarp%2C_Vincent%2C_Pancras_and_Chrysogonus.jpg
Perpetua: Image: By onbekende Venetiaanse kunstenaar. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Pagelink: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APerpetua.jpg

Swept up into the eternal

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Saturday

Psalm 90

1Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

It’s hard to pull out single verses from this psalm, as lovely as they are. Each line of the poet’s prayer is rich and wonderful, quotable, memorable. But they do not stand on their own. They are woven together in a rich tapestry meditating on the transcendence of God, the frailty of flesh, the steadfast love of God, the burden of sin, that value of wisdom, the hope of mercy.

There is a remarkable confidence in the scriptures that the timeless God cares about timebound creatures. Before the mountains, before the seas, before the swirl of cosmic dust formed the earth, before the sun was born, before the galaxy swept into its great spiral, before the cosmos was flung into being, “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Yet this everlasting God, this power and presence at the heart of all existence, is our refuge, our habitation – and has been for all the generations. It is wonderful and audacious and overwhelming all at the same time.

There is a danger in this sense of God’s timelessness. Before such majesty we recede to tiny specks of dust. A grain of sand on an endless shore. Of what significance can our lives be when “a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.”

But there is also a hidden grace in such insignificance. There is something merciful in the notion that the endless wars and cruelties of our age are a speck on the sands of time. A thousand years of hate and bigotry, hunger, greed, pride is but a watch in the night – a few hours in which we sleep, mindless to the passage of time.

There is something liberating in the notion that the cruelties of human history could be swept away. Not forgotten, exactly, but made small and insignificant. They mattered to those who suffered them, of course, but they too are swept up into the timelessness of God. Their sorrows forgotten. Their tears wiped away.

The majesty of God and this great sweep of eternity lightens the burden of my daily troubles and anxieties. They are not eternal. They are light momentary afflictions.” Real sufferings, to be sure, real sorrows, real fears, and yet swallowed up in something much bigger, much more enduring. They are not forgotten, they are not denied, but they have been robbed of their power, for they are not eternal. It is God who is from everlasting to everlasting. And in all generations he has been our dwelling place.

 

Photo:By Becafuel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sympathy?

Friday

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Hebrews 4:12-16

15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.

We hear the word ‘sympathize’ and we think about a set of emotions, a process of identifying with the feelings of another. And the word ‘weaknesses’ makes us think of whatever weakness of character yields to temptation. It is weakness that keeps me eating potato chips when I know I should stop.

But the weakness that the author has in mind is not a psychological one; it is our human frailty, our mortality, our membership in a world that knows sickness and death, war and violence, slavery and subjection, hunger and greed. Jesus doesn’t “sympathize” with our human condition; he has tasted it fully. He as shared it. He has suffered it with us. (‘syn’ = ‘with’; ‘pathos’ = ‘suffering’, ‘misfortune’) He has borne the heat of the day, the aches of the body, the pain of loss. He has known hunger and fear and sorrow. He has shared our suffering and dying.

Jesus has shared our human condition – “yet without sin.” Meaning that in all the trials and struggles, pleasures and sorrows of life he did not break faith with God. His allegiance did not waver. He trusted perfectly. He walked the path completely.

There is nothing we experience as mortal creatures in a broken world that Jesus does not understand, that he did not share. He knows our stresses and fears and pleasures.

The testing is a testing of whether, in such a world broken and troubled, we will remain faithful and true. It is not whether we will succumb to some unhealthy pleasure; it is whether we will remain faithful when the price of allegiance appears too great. Peter in the house of the high priest is a testing. The three sleeping in Gethsemane is a testing. Jesus’ followers fleeing when the soldiers come is a testing.

Jesus understands all those tests. And he deals gently with us. So we come to the throne of grace boldly. When Jesus meets Peter at the seashore after the resurrection and asks him three times “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”, he is not twisting the knife. Gently he gives Peter the chance to rewrite the story of a three-fold denial with a threefold declaration of allegiance.

We are still disciples, still following Jesus on the path into the reign of God, still struggling to understand, still faced with moments of testing when it is easier to turn back, when it is easier to yield to greed or prejudice or pride or presumption. When it is easier to yield to silence or fear or some worldly attachment. When it is easier to succumb than show steadfast love to our neighbor and our enemies.

Jesus understands. But he does not leave us there. Like Peter he leads us back to the path of faithfulness to God and fidelity to our fellow travelers on this earth, our fellow children of a gracious but determined God.

 

Image: By Alexander Bida (WCG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Would that you were

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Thursday

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15

14Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.

The Tanakh translation by the Jewish Publication Society renders this verse:

14Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
And that the Lord, the God of hosts,
May truly be with you,
As you think.

“As you think.” “As you have said.” There is no shortage of delusion in the human heart and in human societies. The prophet looks upon a nation that considers itself God’s people and utters the simple, searing indictment that they are not.

It should make us wary of claiming too quickly that we are God’s people, or that we are a Christian nation. We sing “God Bless America” now at the seventh inning stretch of our professional baseball games. It’s not so much a prayer that we might be a holy people as a defiant response to being attacked on 9/11.

14Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
And that the Lord, the God of hosts,
May truly be with you,
As you think.

In their speeches, our politicians take it for granted that we are God’s favorite nation. They confuse wealth with divine favor, and power with greatness. They confuse naming the name of God with being a people of God.

We have that same problem in our churches. We say God is with us, but often lack the evidence that we are with God.

It is so seductive, this conviction that God is on our side. Whether we are engaged in a great crusade or resting on laurels real or imagined, “God is with us.” But the serious question is whether we are with God.

The prophet’s word – God’s word through the prophet, remember – asks fundamental questions about the treatment of the poor, the abuse of the legal system, the corruption of the economic system, the neglect of truth, the loss of our basic fidelity to one another. The leaders of the nation ignore all this, while singing a song of national inviolability: “We are God’s people.”

“Would that you were,” says the prophet. “Would that you were,” says the LORD of hosts.

 

Photo: By Eric Kilby on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

The needy at the gate

Wednesday

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15

File:Arbeitsbesuch Mazedonien (20704988638).jpg12For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins –
you who afflict the righteous,
who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.

I love this phrase, “You…who…push aside the needy in the gate.” Too often we have seen people push their way past those they think of no significance. It is not just the homeless man, sleeping on a piece of cardboard where the church’s outer wall connects to the sidewalk, it is the stranger in the crowd, the woman on the train who walks a little too slowly, the driver at the intersection who doesn’t move as quickly as we wish. It is the clerk at the store who becomes the target of all manner of hostility, or the customer blithely ignored by the clerk chatting on the phone. We do it quite a bit, failing to see the other as a person, especially the poor.

But the text is not just speaking about pushing past the beggar at the gate. The gate is where the city elders sat in judgment. It was the equivalent of the courthouse, where decisions were made about injustices done, contracts broken, insults spoken that deserved punishment.

To “push aside the needy at the gate” is to dismiss the complaints of the poor. It is to rule in favor of the city elders (the city elite) by the city elders for the city elders. It is to defend the powerful rather than the weak. It is to choose the wealthy rather than the poor. It is to ignore the most basic of Biblical commands.

“Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.

“Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.

“For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

“Be careful to do everything I have said to you. (Exodus 23:6-13)

Or again,

13 You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning.

14 You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

15 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. 16 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.

17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 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. (Leviticus 19:13-18)

Justice. Mercy. Care of the poor. Loving your neighbor. Seeing your neighbor. It all connects.

There is a line in Jesus Christ, Superstar where Jesus, overwhelmed by the crowds clawing at him for healing, cries out “Heal yourselves!” But there is nothing like that in the Gospels. We understand the impulse recorded in the musical. We see the needy as needy. We hear their cries as cries. Jesus seems always to see the person. He pushes no one aside.

 

Photo: By Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres (Arbeitsbesuch Mazedonien) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Riches

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Watching for the Morning of October 11, 2015

Year B

The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 23 / Lectionary 28

The Pharisees’ question to Jesus about divorce turned into an invitation by him to live the kingdom. Now a rich man comes asking how to enter the kingdom, but he turns away, unable to live the life Jesus is bringing.

We know this story as the story of the rich, young ruler, but Mark doesn’t tell us that he is any of these, until it comes out at the end that the man cannot give up his wealth. Every adjective we add to describe this person who comes to Jesus seeking the kingdom of God, every detail with which he is embellished, pushes him further and further into a comfortable distance from ourselves. Bit by bit we define him as someone specific rather than an everyman. He becomes someone else, not me.

But he is me – me with different issues, maybe, but me. What is Jesus asking of us? What is he promising? What do I have to walk away from in order to walk into the realm of the Spirit? My wealth? My anger? My bitterness? My sorrow?

The subject under discussion here is wealth – but much more than wealth. Even as last week’s conversation was about much more than divorce. We are still on the journey towards Jerusalem. Jesus is still headed to the cross and resurrection. He is still talking about what it means to take up the cross, what it means to be citizens of the dawning reign of light and life, what it means to show allegiance to Jesus and Jesus only.

The prophet Amos tills the soil for the seeds Jesus is sowing. He cries out against the economic injustice of his day, the loss of compassion, the abuse of the poor, and declares the coming catastrophe when Assyria will come trample those who trampled the poor:

“You have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.”

The psalmist calls us to be wise, to recognize that

“The days of our life are seventy years,
or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.”

Pain and struggle and mortality are the heritage of a world turned away from God – but the poet prays for God to soften the burden of life’s sorrows.

What is unspoken in the psalm – but present nonetheless – is the recognition that our brief and fragile life should be spent in “fear” of the eternal God (respect and honor of God’s ways).

As he warns us to show trust and allegiance to God, the author of Hebrews states boldly that the Word of God will reveal the heart of each of us. But he also declares that in Christ we may “approach the throne of grace with boldness.”

In this mix of warning and promise, judgment and grace, there is an abiding promise that God’s reign is dawning. It requires our full allegiance, but it abounds with riches – just not the ones taken from our neighbors.

The Prayer for October 11, 2015

In your kingdom, O God, all find shelter and all are fed.
May your Spirit reign among us
that, abiding in your goodness,
we may live with joyful and generous hearts;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for October 11, 2015

First Reading: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
“Because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them.” – In the 8th century BCE, during the reign of Jereboam II, the northern kingdom of Israel grew rich but failed to live God’s justice and mercy. As Assyria rises to power, the prophet Amos cries out against the nation’s failure, warning them of the coming catastrophe, and urging them to turn and live.

Psalmody: Psalm 90 (appointed 90:12-17)
“Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”
– The poet meditates on the brevity and sorrows of human life, rooted as they are in humanity’s sinfulness. The poet bids God grant them a proper humility, but also asks God to have mercy and deal with us according to his faithfulness and love.

Second Reading: Hebrews 4:12-16
“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”
– God knows and will reveal the heart, but the author also declares that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,” and urges his hearers to “approach the throne of grace with boldness.”

Gospel: Mark 10:17-31
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – A man comes up to Jesus asking how he can inherit the kingdom of God (be among those to enjoy the age to come when God rules over all). But when Jesus summons him to sell his possessions, give to the poor and come, follow Jesus, he turns away. And Jesus comments on how difficult it is for the wealthy to start living the kingdom. Fortunately, “for God all things are possible.”

 

Photo: By Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil (Contando Dinheiro) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons