Judgment and Mercy, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Statue of Reconciliation, Coventry Cathedral, England

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison,



Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Deuteronomy 34:1-12 (Richard Elliott Friedman, 2001):

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is facing Jericho.  And YHWH showed him all of the land, Gilead to Dan, and all of Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh and all the land of Juday to the far sea, and the Negeb and the plain, the valley of Jericho, city of palms, to Zoar.

And YHWH said to him,

This is the land that I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I’ll give it to your seed.’  I’ve caused you to see it with your eyes, but you won’t pass there.

And Moses, YHWH’s servant, died there in the land of Moab by YHWH’s mouth, and He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth Peor.  And no man knows his burial place to this day.  And Moses was a hundred twenty years old at his death.  His eye was not dim, and his vitality had not fled.

And the children of Israel mourned Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days.  And the days of weeping, the mourning of Moses, ended.  And Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him, and the children of Israel listened to him.  And they did as YHWH commanded Moses.

And a prophet did not rise again in Israel like Moses, whom YHWH knew face-to-face, with all the signs and the wonders that YHWH sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and with all the strong hand and with all the great fear that Moses made before the eyes of all Israel.

Psalm 66:1-8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Be joyful in God, all you lands;

sing the glory of his Name;

sing the glory of his praise.

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.

3 All the earth bows down before you,

sings to you, sings out your Name.”

Come now and see the works of God,

how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

He turned the sea into dry land,

so that they went through the water on foot,

and there we rejoiced in him.

6 In his might he rules for ever;

his eyes keep watch over the nations;

let no rebel rise up against him.

7 Bless our God, you peoples;

make the voice of his praise to be heard;

Who holds our souls in life,

and will not allow our feet to slip.

Matthew 18:15-20 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

[Jesus continued,]

But if your brother wrongs you, go and have it out with him at once–just between the two of you.  If he will listen to you, you have won him back as your brother.  But if he will not listen to you, take one or two others with you so that everything that is said may have the support of two or three witnesses.  And if he still won’t pay attention, tell the matter to the church.  And if he won’t even listen to the church then he must be to you like a pagan–or a tax-collector!

Believe me, whatever you forbid upon earth will be what is forbidden in Heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be what is permitted in Heaven.

And I tell you once more that if two of you on earth agree in asking for anything it will be granted to you by my Heavenly Father.  For wherever two or three people have come together in my name, I am there, right among them!


The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


A balanced reading of the lesson from Matthew must consider the following text:

What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you?  Is it not your passions that are at war in your members?  You desire and do not have; so you kill.  And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war.  You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions….Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and will exalt you.

Do not speak evil against one another, brethren.  He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.  But who are you that you judge your neighbor?

James 4:1-3, 8-12 (Revised Standard Version)

The reading from Matthew concerns how to deal with what Volume VIII of  The New Interpreter’s Bible calls “dangerously errant members” of congregations.  The advice placed in the mouth of Jesus is quite practical, granting the “dangerously errant member” opportunities at repentance and reconciliation.  As in many other places in the Bible, judgment and mercy coexist.  One needs look no farther than Matthew 18.  The chapter also includes Jesus exalting the humility of children and telling a parable of a shepherd finding a lost sheep before this day’s reading.  Afterward, the chapter contains a commandment to forgive frequently and a parable about the necessity of forgiveness and the judgment one brings on oneself by refusing to forgive.

So it is vital to find one’s center in God and to remain there, living in love for God, oneself, and one’s fellow human beings.  Therein one finds peace with all three.  That, as a spiritual mentor of mine years ago might say now, is what is really going on here.

I conclude this devotion with a prayer by Jonathan Montaldo, from Lent and Easter Wisdom from Thomas Merton:  Daily Scripture and Prayers Together with Thomas Merton’s Own Words (Liguori, MO:  Liguori, 2007), page 65:

Reconcile my heart.

Give me the grace to ask forgiveness of those I have offended

and to forgive those who have offended me.

If I cannot at least pray for everyone,

I cannot be your disciple.

What you ask of me, Lord,

is a life’s work of reconciliation.

Let me at least begin to labor at forgiveness.








Adapted from this post:



One response to “Judgment and Mercy, Part II

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  1. Pingback: Week of Proper 14: Wednesday, Year 1 « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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