TO THOSE persons seeking discussion for Sundays coming forth in the lectionary, we offer a listing according to the three-year calendar.
On the right-hand column of this page, please find the past corresponding year for lectionary years A, B, or C.
And then search the appropriate month in each for a discussion concerning the gospel reading.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Disciple Training

FOR THE Third Sunday after Pentecost, we consider a transitional reading likely presented before the ancient Church to assist their focus during the change of ecclesial seasons. We hear from this Matthean witness concerning the empowerment of our Lord's disciples. In this reading, we first find our author presented the ending of Jesus' individual ministry, followed with a chapter presenting us with the commissioning of his disciples. They were sent out to do empowered ministry throughout ancient Israel. We read...

 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;  Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food.
 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. 

 When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
 Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.

                                                                               (Matthew 9:35–10:23)

 For Lives Unaware!
Initially in our gospel reading, the stage is set in the divine contest between good and evil. The creative process will be held over an extended period of time and is described by our author using the agricultural setting known by the faithful Jews in Israel. The scene opens with Israel's remaining sheep being endangered by ravenous wolves, which are devouring the flock within sight of the shepherds. Using the metaphor, our author then introduced the initial empowerment of our Lord's disciples, notably naming each apostle given the commission.
 Many biblical authorities question why these names are so mentioned since they are presented elsewhere. I contend that these familiar names were placed firmly and repeatedly in the script of this gospel in order to link the later Church in Syria and elsewhere with the original, historic apostolic sending. This joining the later believers to apostolic succession become paramount for the Church.
  First, the apostles were being lost by the Church over subsequent decades. These losses occurred during persecutions historically recorded now by many authorities. These arise from the date of the ministry, crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord to the time of apparent writing of this gospel (circa 85a.d.)
 During these decades the infant Church lost its original leadership and had been driven from Jerusalem by harsh condemnations and severe persecutions from both religious and secular powers. These predatory powers pursued Christians throughout the Roman Empire, and Christians were used as scapegoats by the Hebrews. Such persecution is well known to us, through the witness of Saint Paul.
 Pressure was surely felt by those who inherited this original apostolic mission to the Jews ... persons like Ignatius of Antioch in Syria. Soon, the persecutions suffered by the apostles were being visited upon Jewish Christians in all reaches of society across the diaspora.

 However, as persons in the Church today who hold to the traditions passed along to us, we find that the warnings to those first witnesses carry over in our own calendar. The message of Church history clearly states that societal wolves plot to yet devour some of our Lord's sheep. This is true for us therefore from the manger to the harvest... by mean of abortion, dissolution of marriages, persecution and euthanasia.. each a methodical power attempting to nullify the influence of righteous shepherds.
Consequently we of the Church need to pay very close attention to the message passed along here by the church of Matthew. We shall be delivered up by many in this modern world's societies, but during the trials shall be given the Word to speak in the midst of the public square. Congregations are subsequently warned, therefore, to heed the words of our Lord given in the last of this week's text.

 You see, as disciples our mission for the whole Church continues in Israel and elsewhere. When we are persecuted in answer to our proclamation, we are told by our Lord to move on unless incarcerated. We are not to stubbornly attempt revivals of the many whited-sepulchers of former times, but are instead called to declare salvation through Jesus Christ to those lost sheep who are found wandering in fields of any societal setting. May our misson be so empowered by the Holy Spirit, thanks be to God!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Word By Word!

OUR GOSPEL reading for the Third Sunday in Easter relates Jesus’ travel on the road with two disciples. According to Luke, this event happened just after our Lord's Resurrection, but before he met with his hiding disciples. Please know that this topic also has my attention in previous editorial covering at:
Here in Luke we read... 

 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 
 And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 
 And he said to them, “What things?” 
 And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. 
  Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.” 
 And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  
 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going farther,  but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 
 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. 
 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”  And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 
 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.  
                                                                                (Luke 24:13–35)
With and Not Recognized? 
 Our gospel writer stated that two of the Lord’s disciples were leaving Jerusalem after the crucifixion, death and Resurrection of Jesus. However, they were unaware that the latter had occurred. They were walking toward Emmaus and discussing the crucifixion events. That they were indeed among our Lord’s disciples is made evident in that one of them was named with certainty as Cleopas. This name correlates closely with the name used to describe a woman noted in the Gospel According to Saint John. In John, as an observer of Jesus’ death upon the cross, that woman was named as the wife of Clopas. Subsequently, though some discussion has been held amongst scholars over the difference in spelling between the two names, I offer that the textual difference exists in scriptural accounts only because of the spelling preferences within the two disparate sources of gospel authorship. 
 Here I contend that one of the men was clearly one named to the Lukan community as a disciple, and the other was at least awarded the status of a knowing companion. Both men were walking that short distance from Jerusalem, likely in sullen spirit while deeply disappointed with the recent happenings. They were probably stopping occasionally to discuss the matter at great length. According to Luke, that is when Jesus joined them. Yet, though at least one of them had likely seen Jesus previously and recently... neither of the men recognized him. 
 It is in this elemental stage of grief that we find our Lord became present, but was not recognized. As Jesus began to question them concerning their dialog, he received confirmation concerning that which he most likely knew. In trying to comprehend the failure of the one person who they thought was the Messiah, they were likely as sinful as any in examination of the intrigue that had led to his death and burial. Discussion concerning the political turmoil likely ensued, leading to yet another stage of grief. They may have been laying the blame for Messianic failure. Who was at fault? The Pharisees? Sadduccees? Zealots? Sanhedrin? Rome? Were they at fault? Or was Jesus at fault? Was he not the Messiah?

 It was apparently within this context that Jesus interrupted them using a certain amount of disdain. It seemed because of failures in both mind and heart, that they were leaving out the one source of solidity for their understanding of the historical flow. They were ignoring the prophetic value of the Hebrew scriptures! They were doing what so many of us mirror in today’s world. The two men were traveling as sullen and disheartened, fearing no changes made in a sin-ridden society. 
 Therefore, we read that Jesus took them through a tour of Messianic prophecy that spoke of his arrival, teachings, miracles, death and burial... and the predictions concerning his Resurrection. What was our Lord doing? Our Lord was reminding them about looking at the divine flow of human salvation as stated in the Word, by the Word! 
 Exactly! Here is the message that we who are still walking and talking beneath the demonic railings of political ignorance, pandemic illnesses and approaching deaths need to be reminded of... our Lord said upon the cross... “It is finished.” All prophecy concerning the Messiah... the Annointed Deliverer... have been fulfilled. 

 We note that when the evening then came upon them... a time of darkness and foreboding... they invited Jesus to stay with them. We need to do the same. They treated him as a guest, and he said a great prayer of thanksgiving while they reclined at the table. We need to do the same. 
 Then it was revealed to them that this was the real body and blood of Jesus, unrecognizable without the Word... they ate with him. And then they were left alone with the Good News... Jesus is Risen; Risen Indeed! Go tell others.

 We invite you to view this offering concerning the gospel revelation and our present circumstances...

May the Peace of God that surpasses all human understanding
keep you hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.