Tag Archives: 8 Sunday in Ordinary time

3 March 2019: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
  Sir 27:4-7
RCL: Is 55:10-13
  Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16   1 Cor 15:54-58
RCL: 1 Cor 15:51-58
  Lk 6:39-45
RCL: Lk 6:39-49

Discipleship: how we are known

Green_banner_sm During Ordinary time the Lectionary readings present stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. This week’s readings invite us to judge the fruits of our own discipleship.

The first reading, from the book of Sirach, is part of Hebrew scripture’s wisdom writings. Sirach draws a parallel between something known from nature (a well-cared for tree produces good fruit) and something true about the human experience (a well-cared for inner life produces good and wise words). The Lectionary editors chose this reading because Jesus uses a similar saying about trees and fruit in today’s gospel.

The second reading concludes the Lectionary’s reading cycle from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian ekklesia. Paul continues to correct Corinthian ideas about the resurrection. The Corinthian gnostics thought baptism initiated them into the resurrected life; therefore they didn’t needs a physical resurrection after death. Paul quotes Hosea’s metaphor (Hos 13:14) that compares death to a scorpion: a scorpion kills with a sting (“sin”) from its tail. Paul teaches that “death has lost its sting” because God has given us victory through Christ, who has defeated sin, the cause of death. Paul also says that “sin’s power comes from the Law.” That is, God gave humans the Law to help us become holy. Ironically, the Law gave humans more opportunities to fail, which increased sin’s power (more rules = more failings). However, because Christ removed the threat of death, the believing community can now focus on living lives (“labor”) aligned with Christ as part of Christ’s finished work.

Luke’s gospel concludes Jesus’ “sermon on the plain.” Addressing those who have chosen discipleship, Jesus uses three parables and a saying to teach about community living:

  • The parables. Continuing his theme of compassion and non-judgement, Jesus presents his disciples with three parabolic sayings about how to live in the kingdom’s community: leaders can be blind, teachers can be limited, and correction can easily turn into hypocrisy. Jesus warns those who set themselves up as moral leaders, teachers, or advisors (condemning or correcting others) have their own moral blind spots, incomplete understanding, and obscured vision. To condemn or correct others without such self-awareness makes a leader, teacher, or advisor a hypocrite.
  • The saying. In the ancient world, people believed that character preceded action; that is, a person’s deeds (“fruit”) reveal the state of one’s heart. Only a hypocrite could camouflage his natural inclinations. In this saying that summarizes his parables, Jesus gives would-be judges of others a measure of their own worthiness or unworthiness: one’s mouth (what you say) must agree with one’s heart (what or who you are).

This week’s readings ask every believing community member to consider his or her relationships with others. In his “sermon on the plain,” Jesus calls his disciples to a higher standard of behavior. A disciple is blessed to be invited into the kingdom. A disciple loves his enemies. A disciple shows God-like love and mercy. A disciple’s actions flow from her character or “heart.” A disciple produces good words and actions. The sermon on the plain challenges us to measure our discipleship. Am I blind to my own personal failings? Have I failed to learn important moral lessons? What beam in my own eye am I purposely ignoring? What are my words and actions saying to the community?

 

—Terence Sherlock

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26 February 2017: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Is 49:14-15 Ps 62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9 1 Cor 4:1-5 Mt 6:24-34

Discipleship: trust, worry, and dependence on God

Green_banner_sm During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. The gospel continues Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount discourse. This week’s readings ask us to consider God’s continuous care for us.

In the first reading Isaiah provides consolation for those returning from exile–God has not forgotten them or forsaken them. For today’s hearers this reading emphasizes God’s care for God’s people. The gospel echoes that God never forgets anyone.

The second reading continues Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This week Paul tells the Corinthians how to evaluate their teachers. The apostolic leaders (Apollos, Paul, Kephas) are Christ’s assistants, not philosophers with hidden knowledge. Apostolic leaders are measured by their faithfulness to the gospel message, not by their speaking ability or authority.

Matthew’s gospel continues Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount discourse. Today’s reading picks up with the “Material possessions vs human relationships” section, and has two parts:

  • Parable of serving two masters. A slave can obey, honor, or be loyal to (“love”) only one master at a time; as a result he ignores (“hates”) his other masters. Jesus’ parable warns about priorities: a disciple’s loyalty and service is to God first, and everything else (mammon) second. Mammon represents anything that competes with God, including money, possessions, and even self. The Aramaic root of mammon means “trust” or “the person or thing in which one places trust.” This saying about mammon/trust leads logically to Jesus’ teaching about a disciple’s dependence on God.
  • Dependence on God. The Greek word μεριμνάω (meh-rim-NAH-oh), meaning “to worry about,” appears six times in ten verses (Mt 6:25-34). Jesus knows the reality of human needs (food and clothing), but he forbids disciples from making human needs an object of anxiousness–that is, when a disciple becomes a slave to such worries. Jesus contrasts the actions and attitudes of gentiles and disciples. Gentiles crave (and become slaves to) human needs because they trust only in mammon. Disciples seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness because they trust God already knows what they need and will provide “all these things.” Jesus is not saying that a disciple shouldn’t plan; Jesus is condemning worry and planning that ignores God’s providence, or that chases after security that makes faith unnecessary.

Today’s readings ask RCIA participants and the believing community to recognize that humans are wired to worry. Worrying becomes a problem when we put more trust in human solutions than in God’s care for us. We should take comfort in knowing that the Father cares for us and always provides what we need. Such trust in the Father brings us peace and joy, freeing us from worry and fear. What is the source of our worry? Who owns our exclusive trust?

—Terence Sherlock

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