Archive for the ‘St. Paul the Apostle’ Tag

Rejecting Grace, Part II   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Talents

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9

Psalm 90:12-17 (LBW) or Psalm 90:13-17 (LW)

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Matthew 25:14-30 (LBWLW) or Mathew 24:3-14 (LW)

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Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people

to seek more eagerly the help you offer,

that, at the last, they may enjoy the fruit of salvation;

through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 29

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O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds

by your Holy Spirit that, being ever mindful

of the end of all things and your just judgment,

we may be stirred up to holiness of living here

and dwell with you forever hereafter;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 90

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Rejecting grace is a frequent behavior, sadly.  Hosea 11:1-9 and Matthew 25:14-20 speak of it.

The difference between the blessed and the cursed is one thing and one thing only:  the blessed accept their acceptance and the cursed reject it; but the acceptance is already in place for both groups before either does anything about it…. The difference between heaven and hell, accordingly, is simply that those in heaven accept endless forgiveness, while those in hell reject it.  Indeed, the precise hell of hell is its endless refusal to open the door to the reconciled and reconciling party that stands forever on its porch and knocks, equally endlessly, for permission to begin the Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 3:20).

–Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment:  Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus (2002), 356-357

Or, as C. S. Lewis wrote, the doors to Hell are locked from the inside.

As some of the other assigned readings indicate, the lectionary has turned toward Advent.  Certain Confessional Lutheran denominations have labeled the last four Sundays before Christmas the End Times Season.  In England, in 1990, the Joint Liturgical Group prepared a four-year lectionary that starts nine Sundays before Christmas.

I cannot argue with the logic of both systems.  The Joint Lecitonary Group’s lectionary violates centuries of Western Christian tradition, but so be it.  I know of an Episcopal congregation that celebrates eight Sundays of Advent.

Psalm 90 contextualizes human rebellion, divine judgment, and divine grace within the contrast between divine permanence and human impermanence.  I reject the idea that we must respond favorably to God before we die, or else.  I reject any limitation of grace.  However, I affirm that responding favorably to God consistently and as soon as possible is the best possible strategy, one which gladdens God’s heart.

Receiving grace requires extending it to others.  This principle applies to groups and individuals alike.  As St. Paul the Apostle wrote to the church at Thessalonica:

So give encouragement to each other, and keep strengthening one another, as you do already.

–1 Thessalonians 5:11, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

God seeks everyone.  Divine love pursues and accompanies all of us.  Will we–collectively and individually–accept it or reject it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGREVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCISZEK DACHTERA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1944

THE FEAST OF THEODORE O. WEDEL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS WIFE, CYNTHIA CLARK WEDEL, U.S. PSYCHOLOGIST AND EPISCOPAL ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS AUGUSTINE JUDGE, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST; FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE MOST BLESSED TRINITY, AND THE MISSIONARY CENACLE APOSTOLATE

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Adapted from this post

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The Faithfulness and Generosity of God, Part VII   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, by Rembrandt Van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 55:6-9

Psalm 27:1-13 (LBW) or Psalm 27:1-9 (LW)

Philippians 1:1-5 (6-11), 19-27

Matthew 20:1-16

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Lord God, you call us to work in your vineyard

and leave no one standing idle. 

Set us to our tasks in the work of your kingdom,

and help us to order our lives by your wisdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 28

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Keep, we pray you, O Lord, your Church with your perpetual mercy;

and because without you we cannot but fall,

keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful

and lead us to all things profitable for our salvation;

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 81-82

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Grace does not discriminate based on when one accepts it; all who accept grace receive the same rewards and the same duties to God and other human beings.  The call to repentance from immediately before the end of the Babylonian Exile (Isaiah 55) remains current.  Repentance is an appropriate response to grace.  St. Paul the Apostle’s call for the Philippian congregation always to

behave in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ

(1:27)

remains current for congregations, all levels of the institutional church, and individuals.

Resentment is a motif in some of the parables of Jesus.  Think O reader, of the Prodigal Son’s older brother, for example.  Recall that he honored his father and fulfilled his duty.  So, why was that disrespecful wastrel getting an extravagant party upon returning home?  One may easily identify with the grumbling of laborers who thought they should receive more than a day’s wages because people who started working later in the day also received the promised payment of a denarius.

Are you envious because I am generous?  

–Matthew 15:15b, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

That is God’s question to grumbling, dutiful people today, too.  All people depend completely on grace.  Those who grumble and harbor resentment over divine generosity need to repent of doing so.  To refuse to repent of this is to behave in a manner unworthy of the gospel of Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 16, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN DIEFENBAKER AND LESTER PEARSON, PRIME MINISTERS OF CANADA; AND TOMMY DOUGLAS, FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALIPIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TAGASTE, AND FRIEND OF SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO

THE FEAST OF JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN JONES OF TALYSARN, WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

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Adapted from this post

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Love One Another   1 comment

Above:  St. Peter Walking on Water, by Alessandro Allori

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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1 Kings 19:9-18

Psalm 85:8-13 (LBW) or Psalm 28 (LW)

Romans 9:1-5

Matthew 14:22-33

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Almighty and everlasting God,

you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray,

and to give us more than we either desire or deserve. 

Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,

forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid,

and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask,

except through the merit of your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 26

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Almighty and everlasting God,

always more ready to hear than we to pray

and always ready to give more than we either desire or deserve,

pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,

forgiving us the good things we are not worthy to ask

but through the merits and mediation

of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 74

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I am listening.  What is Yahweh saying?

–Psalm 85:8a, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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Quaker theology includes the Inner Light–the Holy Spirit within each person.  God speaks.  Quakers listen.

I assume that God is a chatterbox in search of an attentive audience.  We are busy and/or distracted.  God gives us assignments.  Like Elijah, we do not complete most of them.  Like St. Simon Peter, we look down at the chaos, not up at Jesus.  We lose faith and sink into that chaos without Jesus, without God.

St. Paul the Apostle believed that the covenant had passed to Christians.  His argument has not convinced me; the Jewish covenant has held.  God has established a separate covenant for faithful Gentiles.  Unfortunately, anti-Semitic misinterpretations of St. Paul’s words have fueled hatred and violence for nearly 2000 years.

What is God saying?  One may experience difficulty knowing the answer to that question even when one is listening carefully.  Assumptions and cultural programming get in the way.  Distractions mean that we miss some messages, even repeated ones.  Ego-defense mechanisms bristle against some messages.  Even when we know the words, we need to interpret them in contexts.

In the middle 1980s, at one of the United Methodist congregations of which my father was the pastor, there was a man named Don.  Don was hard of hearing.  He heard parts of what my father said in sermons.  Don frequently became incensed regarding what he did hear.  He missed contexts and misheard certain words and passages.  He heard (somewhat) and did not understand.  And he assumed that my father was in the wrong.  And Don frequently confronted my father.

Many of us are like Don; we hear partially, misunderstand greatly, and assume that we are correct.  We are, of course, correct some of the time.  A cliché says that even a broken clock is right twice a day.  But why be content to be a broken clock?

Rabbi Hillel and Jesus were correct.  The summary of the Law of Moses is to love God fully and one’s neighbor as oneself.  Gentiles often neglect the second half of Rabbi Hillel’s statement, in full:

The rest is commentary.  Go and learn it.

We Gentiles often stop after,

The rest is commentary.

Many of us tend not to want to study the Law of Moses.  And when many of us do study it, we frequently misinterpret and misunderstand it.  Well-meaning piety may mistake culturally-specific examples for timeless principles, resulting in legalism.

The most basic Biblical commandment is to love self-sacrifically.  If we mean what we say when we affirm that all people bear the image of God, we will treat them accordingly.  We will love them.  We will seek the best for them.  We will not treat them like second-class or third-class citizens.  We will not discriminate against them.  We will not deny or minimize their humanity.  In Quaker terms, we will see the Inner Light in them.

According to a story that may be apocryphal, the aged St. John the Evangelist was planning to visit a house church somewhere.  At the appointed time, the Apostle’s helpers carried him into the space where the congregation had gathered.  The helpers sat St. John down in front of the people.  The Apostle said:

My children, love one another.

Then St. John signaled for his helpers to take him away.  As they did, one member of the congregation ran after St. John.  This person asked an ancient equivalent of,

That’s it?

St. John replied:

When you have done that, I will tell you more.

The message is simple yet difficult.  Yahweh tells us to love one another.  The news tells us all we need to know about how poorly or well we are doing, based on that standard.  We are selfish bastards more often than not, sadly.  Or, like Don, we may be hard of hearing.  Or maybe we have selective memories and attention spans.

Do not imagine, O reader, that I exempt myself from these criticisms.  Rather, I know myself well enough to grasp my sinfulness.  I confess that I am a flawed human being.  I am “but dust.”  I depend on grace.

We all do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF CARL BERNHARD GARVE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHARITIE LIES SMITH BANCROFT DE CHENEZ, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1598 AND 1600

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Adapted from this post

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Trust in God, Part VI   1 comment

Above:  Tares

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 44:1-8

Psalm 86:11-17 (LBW) or Psalm 119:57-64 (LW)

Romans 8:26-27

Matthew 13:24-30 (36-43)

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Pour out upon us, O Lord,

the spirit to think and to do what is right,

that we, who cannot even exist without you,

may have the strength to live according to your will;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

OR

O God, you see how busy we are with many things. 

Turn us to listen to your teachings

and lead us to choose the one thing which will not be taken from us,

Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 26

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Grant us, Lord, the Spirit to think

and to do always such things as are pleasing in your sight,

that we, who without you cannot do anything that is good,

may by you be enabled to live according to your will;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 70

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Second Isaiah’s insistence upon strict monotheism is consistent with Psalmists’ trust in God, especially during difficult times.  St. Paul the Apostle’s encouraging words tell us that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid in our weakness and intercedes for us.

I have been writing lectionary-based posts for more than a decade.  In that time, I have covered the Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) a few times.

All these posts are available at this weblog.

To turn to the topic at hand, trust in God is a theme in the Parable of the Weeds.  We may trust God to remove the darnel.  If we are fortunate, we are not poisonous weeds.  If we are unfortunate, we are darnel, and God will remove us in time.

All the readings speak of trust in God during perilous times.  Romans 8:26-27 exists in the context of what precedes it immediately:  suffering and hardship as birth pangs of a renewed creation.  Isaiah 44:6-8 exists in the context of the waning months of the Babylonian Exile.  Psalm 86 speaks of

a brutal gang hounding me to death

–verse 14, The Jerusalem Bible (1966).

Matthew 13 refers to poisonous weeds that initially resemble wheat in the Parable of the Weeds.  Who is wheat and who is darnel may not always be possible or easy to tell.  (I do know, however, that I habitually fail doctrinal purity tests.  Many people classify me as darnel.  So be it.)  Given the outward similarity of wheat and darnel, whom should one trust?  And, as we read in Psalm 11i:61,

…the nets of the wicked ensnare me.

The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (2019)

Fortunately, we are not alone.  The Holy Spirit comes to our aid in our weakness and intercedes for us.  Do we trust that this is true?  Do we trust in God?

I can answer only for myself.  My answer to this question is,

Yes, usually.

What is your answer, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 17, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL BARNETT, ANGLICAN CANON OF WESTMINSTER, AND SOCIAL REFORMER; AND HIS WIFE, HENRIETTA BARNETT, SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF EDITH BOYLE MACALISTER, ENGLISH NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMILY DE VIALAR, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE APPARITION

THE FEAST OF JANE CROSS BELL SIMPSON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARK HOPKINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, EDUCATOR, AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TERESA AND MAFALDA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESSES, QUEENS, AND NUNS; AND SAINT SANCHIA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESS AND NUN

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Adapted from this post

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The Renewal of All Things   1 comment

Above:  St. Paul the Apostle

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 55:10-11

Psalm 65

Romans 8:18-25

Matthew 13:1-9 (18-23)

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Almighty God, we thank you for planting in us the seed of your word. 

By your Holy Spirit help us to receive it with joy,

live according to it,

and grow in faith and hope and love;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

or

Lord God, use our lives to touch the world with your love. 

Stir us, by your Spirit, to be neighbors to those in need,

serving them with willing hearts;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 25

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O almighty and most merciful God,

of your bountiful goodness keep us, we pray,

from all things that may hurt us that we,

being ready in both body and soul,

may cheerfully accomplish whatever things you want done;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 69

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When reading the assigned lessons in preparation for drafting a post, I often notice that one lesson is an outlier.  Today I choose to focus on the outlier.  The theme of God sowing, complete with the Matthean version of the Parable of the Sower/the Four Soils, is a topic about which I have written and posted more than once.  You, O reader, may access my analysis of that parable by following the germane tags attached to this post.  I also refer you to this post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

Romans 8:18-25 flows from what precedes it immediately:  Christians are heirs–sons, literally–of God, through Jesus, the Son of God.  The gendered language is a reflection of St. Paul the Apostle’s cultural setting, in which sons, not daughters, inherited.  As “sons of God,” we Christians bear witness with the Holy Spirit that we are members of the household of God.

Literally, Christians are “sons of God” or have received the “spirit of sonship” in verses 14, 15, and 23.  We are “children of God” in verses 16, 17, and 21, though.  (I checked the Greek texts.)  These distinctions are obvious in translations that do not neuter the Greek text.  I check genders (male, female, and neuter) via the Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002).  My historical training tells me that before I can interpret a document in context, I must know what the document says.

Romans 8:18-30, from which we extract 8:18-25, tells of the renewal of all things.  In the midst of suffering, the future glory of the human race in God still awaits.  The renewal of creation itself awaits.  The sufferings are birth pangs.  Meanwhile, Christians must wait with patience and expectation.

For obvious reasons, I leave comments about birth pangs to women who have given birth.

St. Paul the Apostle understood suffering for Christ.  St. Paul the Apostle mustered optimism in dark times, by grace.  This has always astounded me.  I, having endured suffering less severe than that of St. Paul the Apostle, have found depression and pessimism instead.

I write this post during dark times for the world.  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world.  Authoritarian forces endanger representative governments around the world.  Polarization has increased to the point that opposite camps have their own facts.  (Objective reality be damned!)  I have found more causes for depression and pessimism than for optimism.

Yet St. Paul the Apostle, speaking to us down the corridors of time, tells us that these are birth pangs of a better world.  I hope that is correct.  I pray that these are not birth pangs of a dystopia.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACQUES ELLUL, FRENCH REFORMED THEOLOGIAN AND SOCIOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT CELESTINE V, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY, ABBOT OF GLASTONBURY AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF GEORG GOTTFRIED MULLER, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ATTORNEY, PRIEST, AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

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Adapted from this post

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This is post #2750 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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Yokes   1 comment

Above:  A Yoke

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Zechariah 9:9-12

Psalm 45:1-2 (3-13), 14-22 (LBW) or Psalm 119:137-144 (LW)

Romans 7:15-25a

Matthew 11:25-30

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God of glory, Father of love, peace comes from you alone. 

Send us as peacemakers and witnesses to your kingdom,

and fill our hearts with joy in your promises of salvation;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 25

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Grant, Lord, that the course of this world

may be so governed by your direction

that your Church may rejoice

in serving you in godly peace and quietness;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 68

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Zechariah 9:9-12 depicts a future scene, in which the Messiah, an ideal king, approaches Jerusalem at the culmination of history–the Day of the LORD.  This is the scene Jesus reenacted during his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, without being a regnant type of Messiah.

The image of YHWH as king exists in the assigned readings from Psalms.

In Romans 7:15-25a we read St. Paul the Apostle’s confession of his struggles with sins.  We may all relate to those struggles.

My tour of the readings brings me to Matthew 11:25-30 and the topic of yokes.

Literally, a yoke was a wooden frame, loops of ropes, or a rod with loops of rope, depending on the purpose.  (See Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3; and Jeremiah 28:10.)  A yoke fit over the neck of a draft animal or the necks of draft animals.  Alternatively, a captive or a slave wore a yoke.  (See Jeremiah 28:10; 1 Kings 12:9; 2 Chronicles 10:4; and 1 Timothy 6:1).  Also, a yoked pair of oxen was a yoke.  (See 1 Samuel 11:7; 1 Kings 19:21; Luke 14:19).

Metaphorically, a yoke had a variety of meanings, depending on the circumstances.  It often symbolized servitude and subjection.  Forced labor was an unjust yoke (1 Kings 11:28; 12:11, 14).  Slavery was a yoke (Sirach 33:27).  Hardship was a yoke (Lamentations 3:27; Sirach 40:1).  The oppression and humiliation of one nation by another was the yoke of bondage (Jeremiah 27:8; 28:4; Hosea 11:7; Deuteronomy 28:48; and Isaiah 47:6).  To break out of subjugation or slavery was to break the yoke (Jeremiah 28:2; Isaiah 9:4; 14:25).  God promised to break the yoke of Egypt in Ezekiel 30:18.  To break away from God was to break God’s yoke (Jeremiah 2:20; 5:5; Sirach 51:39).  Sin was also a yoke (Lamentations 1:14).

The yokes of God and Christ carry positive connotations.  The yoke of obedience to God is easy.  It is also the opposite of the yoke of subordination and subjugation.  This positive yoke is the yoke in Matthew 11:28-30.  It is the yoke St. Paul the Apostle wore (Philippians 4:3).  It is the yoke in Psalm 119:137-144.

Draw near to me, you who are untaught, 

and lodge in my school.

Why do you say you are lacking in these things,

and why are your souls very thirsty?

I opened my mouth and said,

Get these things for yourselves without money.

Put your neck under the yoke,

and let your souls receive instruction;

it is to be found close by.

See with your eyes that I have labored little

and found for myself much rest.

Get instruction with a large sum of silver

and you will gain by it much gold.

May your soul rejoice in his mercy,

and may you not be put to shame when you praise him.

Do your work before the appointed time,

and in God’s time he will give you your reward.

–Sirach 51:23-30, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

You, O reader, will serve somebody or something.  That is not in question.  Whom or what you will serve is a germane question.  Why not serve God, the greatest king?  In so doing, you will find your best possible state of being.  The path may be difficult–ask St. Paul the Apostle, for example–but it will be the best path for you.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 14, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS MAKEMIE, FATHER OF AMERICAN PRESBYTERIANISM AND ADVOCATE FOR RELIGIOUS TOLERATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT CARTHAGE THE YOUNGER, IRISH ABBOT-BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA DOMINICA MAZZARELLO, CO-FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEODORE I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VICTOR THE MARTYR AND CORONA OF DAMASCUS, MARTYRS IN SYRIA, 165

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Adapted from this post

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St. Paul the Apostle in Rome   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Paul the Apostle

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXXIV

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Acts 28:15-31

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Acts 28:15-31 spans 61-63 C.E.  The scene is that of St. Paul the Apostle, living under house arrest, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Rome.  He proclaimed the message to Jews and Gentiles alike; he called Roman Jews “brothers.”

Luke-Acts opens with the Incarnation and closes with St. Paul preaching in an apartment in Rome.  The ending omits the martyrdom of St. Paul in Rome, during the persecution by the Emperor Nero, in the middle 60s C.E.

Certainly, St. Luke, writing circa 85 C.E., knew about the martyrdom of St. Paul.

Did St. Paul ever visit Spain?  (See Romans 15:24.)  The jury is out on that question.  The chronological tables in The Jerusalem Bible (1966) and The New Jerusalem Bible (1985) state that Roman authorities released St. Paul in 63 C.E. and hypothesize that he traveled to Spain and perhaps elsewhere.  Maybe this is accurate.  On the other hand, these tables also indicate that St. Paul wrote or dictated 1 Timothy.  (I reject that idea.)

St. Luke told the story he wanted to tell, not the story we may have wanted him to tell.  So be it.

Dennis Hamm, S. J., provides a fine analysis of the inconclusiveness of Acts 28.  This inconclusiveness:

…serves to remind us that we are invited to continue the story with our lives.

–In Daniel Durken, ed., The New Collegeville Bible Commentary:  New Testament (2009), 435

We are Acts 29.

Thank you, O reader, for joining me on this journey through Luke-Acts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 5, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES WILLIAM SCHAEFFER, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HISTORIAN, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATERINA CITTADINI, FOUNDER OF THE URSULINE SISTERS OF SOMASCO

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDMUND IGNATIUS RICE, FOUNDER OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE BROTHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS OF IRELAND AND THE CONGREGATION OF PRESENTATION BROTHERS

THE FEAST OF FRIEDRICH VON HÜGEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC INDEPDENDENT SCHOLAR AND PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS HONORATUS OF ARLES AND HILARY OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINTS VENANTIUS OF MODON AND CAPRASIUS OF LERINS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

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Loyalty to God   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Jeremiah

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Jeremiah 28:5-9

Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 (LBW) or Psalm 119:153-160 (LW)

Romans 6:1b-11

Matthew 10:34-42

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O God, you have prepared for those who love you

joys beyond understanding. 

Pour into our hearts such love for you that,

loving you above all things,

we may obtain your promises,

which exceed all that we can desire;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 25

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O God, because you have prepared for those who love you

such good things as surpass our understanding,

pour into our hearts such love towards you that we,

loving you above all things,

may obtain your promises,

which exceed all that we can desire;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 67

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Jeremiah 28:1-17 is the story of Hananiah, a false prophet who offered false hope in the waning years of the Kingdom of Judah.  Hananiah had predicted that God would terminate the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian threat.  Jeremiah confronted him and accused him of encouraging disloyalty to God.

Psalms 89 and 119, like Jeremiah, extol and encourage loyalty to God in the midst of disloyalty to God.

St. Paul the Apostle encourages us down the corridors of time to be

dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

–Romans 6:11b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

When we return to Matthew 10:37-38, we read of the priority of loving Jesus most of all and of taking up one’s cross and following him.  Heeding this advice entails reordering one’s priorities if they are askew.

Those who are loyal to God will stand out compared to those who are disloyal to God.  Given the human tendency to promote conformity, some negative consequences will befall those who are loyal to God.  Those dispensing the negative consequences may include co-religionists.  That is especially unfortunate.

I offer one caution, O reader.  Do not mistake serial contrariness against “the world” for loyalty to God.  “The world” does not get everything wrong.  Instead, follow the coherent moral standards summarized in the Golden Rule.  How would a world in which the Golden Rule was the accepted standard function, in contrast to the one in which we live?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 5, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES WILLIAM SCHAEFFER, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HISTORIAN, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATERINA CITTADINI, FOUNDER OF THE URSULINE SISTERS OF SOMASCO

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDMUND IGNATIUS RICE, FOUNDER OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE BROTHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS OF IRELAND AND THE CONGREGATION OF PRESENTATION BROTHERS

THE FEAST OF FRIEDRICH VON HÜGEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC INDEPDENDENT SCHOLAR AND PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS HONORATUS OF ARLES AND HILARY OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINTS VENANTIUS OF MODON AND CAPRASIUS OF LERINS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

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Adapted from this post

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St. Paul’s Voyage to Rome   Leave a comment

Above:  Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXXIII

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Acts 27:1-28:14

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St. Luke seems to have accompanied St. Paul the Apostle and Aristarchus to Rome.  Notice the instances of “we,” starting in 27:10, O reader.

Reading Acts 27:1-28:14 is enjoyable; it is a good story, told well.  The setting, by the way, is the winter of 60-61 C.E.

I choose not to retell the story.  Instead, I opt to focus on a few themes:

  1. St. Paul knew about sailing and shipwrecks.  (See 2 Corinthians 11:25, too.)  The “I told you so” moment was fun.
  2. Storms at sea reinforce why ancient Near Eastern mythology associated the deep with chaos.
  3. 27:35-38 echoes Eucharistic language.
  4. Providence is a major theme.
  5. The language of salvation becomes literal in the text.  Associated with this, jettisoning cargo–a necessity in this case–functions also as a spiritual mentor.
  6. Another parallel between St. Paul and Jesus is that Jesus was sailing in Luke 8:23, in the story of the calming of the storm (Luke 8:22-25).
  7. In a cultural motif, surviving a disaster indicated divine favor.  God vindicated St. Paul.
  8. The shipwreck created an opportunity for another healing.

The journey through Luke-Acts has one more stop left.  I encourage you, O reader, to complete the journey with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 4, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CEFERINO JIMENEZ MALLA, SPANISH ROMANI MARTYR, 1936

THE FEAST OF ANGUS DUN, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WASHINGTON, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL MARTYSZ, POLISH ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEAN-MARTIN MOYË, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY IN CHINA, AND FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND THE CHRISTIAN VIRGINS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN HOUGHTON, ROBERT LAWRENCE, AUGUSTINE WEBSTER, HUMPHREY MIDDLEMORE, WILLIAM EXMEW, AND SEBASTIAN NEWDIGATE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1535

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St. Paul the Apostle in Caesarea   Leave a comment

Above:  Herod Agrippa II

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXXII

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Acts 23:23-26:32

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One motif in the Acts of the Apostles is that attempts to prevent the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ failed.  They created new opportunities for that proclamation instead.

Caesarea, on the Mediterranean coast, was the official seat of the procurators of Judea.  The germane procurators were Antonius Felix (52-60) and Porcius Festus (60-62).

Meanwhile, Herod Agrippa II (b. 27 C.E.) ruled as a Roman client king over various territories from 50 to 100 C.E.  Herod Agrippa II, who appointed the high priest in Jerusalem, conducted an incestuous relationship with Bernice, his sister.  Herod Agrippa II, who died childless in 100 C.E., was the last ruler of the Herodian Dynasty.

St. Paul was a prisoner at Caesarea from 58 to 60 C.E.  The conditions were lenient, though.

Tertullus, from Jerusalem, described St. Paul as “a perfect pest” (24:5) for being a Christian evangelist.

St. Paul, as a Roman citizen, appealed to the emperor–Nero, in this case.  Besides, the Apostle’s life remained in danger in Caesarea.

Notice another parallel with Jesus, O reader.  Recall that in the Lucan Passion narrative, a series of people–especially Roman officials–proclaimed the innocence of Jesus.  We read that pattern repeating in Acts 23:23-26:32.

The irony of St. Paul’s appeal to the emperor is that he could have gone free without it (27:32).

Herod Agrippa II’s response to St. Paul has launched many sermons and bad Gospel songs.  (“Bad Gospel songs” is redundant, by the way.)

A little more, and your arguments would make a Christian of me.

–Acts 26:28, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Recall the Parable of the Sower/the Four Soils (Luke 8:4-9, 11-15), O reader.  Not all soils are receptive to the seed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 3, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CAROLINE CHISHOLM, ENGLISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIE-LÉONIE PARADIS, FOUNDER OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAURA AND TIMOTHY OF ANTINOE, MARTYRS, 286

THE FEAST OF SAINT TOMASSO ACERBIS, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

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