The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 15, Track 1, August 20, 2017 – Year A
How to use this page:
Read a different passage each day and think about it. Some questions are offered to help stimulate your reflection. You’ll find your experience of worship on Sunday will be intensified.
For a method to read and pray with the scriptures you might try to use the ancient practice of Lectio Divina (Divine Reading). We’ve written some instructions on how to useLectio with the Sunday Scriptures at the following link:Using Lectio Divina to pray the lections
We use the Episcopal Revised Common Lectionary.
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15: 10-28
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A Reading from Genesis (45:1-15)
Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there-since there are five more years of famine to come-so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
What spiritual and psychological work did Joseph have to do to respond in this way to the brothers who nearly killed him and who sold him into slavery?
What spiritual and psychological work did the brothers have to do?
What lessons does this offer you?
How can we heal the hurts and injustice of the past?
…in our families? …in our nation? …in our world?
Psalm 133 Ecce, quam bonum! St. Helena Psalter
Oh, how good and pleasant it is, *
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like fine oil upon the head *
that runs down upon the beard,
Upon the beard of Aaron, *
and runs down upon the collar of his robe.
It is like the dew of Hermon *
that falls upon the hills of Zion.
For there has God ordained the blessing: *
life for evermore.
What first steps that are in your power to initiate might help move your kindred to live together in unity?
What might you do to help all of our kindred, all of humanity, to begin to live together in unity?
A Reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans (11:1-2a, 29-32)
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.
Even though his own family, the Jews, have rejected Jesus as Messiah, Paul rejoices at the creativity of God to expand divine blessing and to be merciful to all.
What can we do in our day to express this divine creativity and mercy?
The Gospel according to Matthew (15: 10-28)
Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
When Jesus said “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” he was only repeating what he had heard and ingested from his family, his friends, and even his Bible. Everyone in Nazareth would have called those Canaanites “dogs.” It was his inherited cultural conditioning. But notice… When he hears her response, he responds with instant compassion. From this point on in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus gives to Gentiles the same healing, feeding and teaching as he gives to his own people.
What does this say to us today? …especially in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville.
How do you connect this story with the introductory teaching — “It’s not what goes in us that defiles, but what comes out of our heart and mouth”?