Monday, October 29, 2018

The Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), November 4, 2018 – Ruth 1:1-18 and Mark 12:28-34

William Blake: Naomi Entreating Ruth and Orpah to Return to the Land of Moab


Three times it’s “daughters” that Naomi calls them,
And urges they turn back, and not proceed;
But step-mothers, such daughters still might turn from,
And for a family of their own be freed.

Bloods thicker, say, than water, but I wonder:
By care for this, her in-law, Ruth did feed,
And let not lack of blood tear them asunder,
But showed a greater love, more true, indeed.

The love she didn’t have to give, she rendered,
Perhaps to all her offspring down the line;
And Joseph, generations later tendered
This quality his son’s life would define.

Scott L. Barton

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

+  +  +

Mark 12:28-34

A Saint of a Different Color

We like to paint the Pharisees and scribes
With one broad brush, as if they're all one tribe,
And think alike! - 'til such a text reminds
Us even Jesus would not have us blind
To God's salvation in some faithful soul
Who, by our standards, doesn't fit the role.
Thus, those who follow Jesus dare to see
One never knows who's in the family tree.

Scott L. Barton

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 28, 2018 - Mark 10:46-52 and Job 42:1-6, 10-17

Mark 10:46-52

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos): Christ Healing the Blind
ca. 1570  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

No Scarcity

I see just why they tried to hush him up,
To make Blind Bart pipe down, and make no noise;
A guy like that is apt to take away
Attention one might otherwise enjoy.

But Bart, who did not see the way I do,
Knew Jesus was the answer to his prayers;
That is, he knew he had the right to love -
Which no impediment can e’er impair.

And so, he bravely called out, “Help me, too!”
And, sight regained, then joined with leaps and bounds
The movement pledged to show, that with good things,
There’s always plenty more to go around.

Scott L. Barton

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

 +  +  +

Job 42:1-6, 10-17

William Blake: Job and His Daughters (1800, Butts set)

Job’s Non-Hollywood Ending

First, Job is told to say his prayers
for his annoying friends;
It must be prayer's required for
the Lord to make amends.
Next, sympathy and gifts turn out
to be Job's grieving need;
Since kindness, not explaining,
all our hurting spirits feeds.
And now we know Job's daughters' names!
And they were given land!
Who knew that such catastrophe,
such progress could command?
These things we need to see, to keep
the blindness from our eyes,
About old Job's disaster which
resulted in surprise;
Not just that all was well again,
but life was fully new;
Thus, grace which always looks ahead
is what will see us through.

Scott L. Barton

Then Job answered the Lord: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 21, 2018 - Hebrews 5:1-10; and Mark 10:35-45 + Job 38:1-7

Preference Requested for James and John
in Martin Luther:
Biblia, die Ganze Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, / 
verteutschet durch Doctor Martin Luther ...

Hebrews 5:1-10

Obedience to Whom?

Obedience is not a word
We’re apt to throw around with praise,
Unless some Christian, misinformed,
Thinks women still should spend their days
In service to their married man.
They use, as Christian “evidence,”
A view in scripture that proclaims,
To God, our Lord’s obedience.

Good grief! This text says he obeyed,
But thus, we’re called to do the same -
Obey the one who gave his all,
And follow he whom we proclaim!
Obedience to love’s the rule,
Not to authority, or man;
This is the news that pastors ought
To preach as gospel - and God’s plan.

Scott L. Barton

Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. 

+  +  +

Mark 10:35-45 + Job 38:1-7

Perception Turned Right on Its Head

They thought, perhaps, that they might sit,
One on the left, one on the right,
Which would the best positions be
To serve him, in that long, good night.
But he reminded them he lived
To serve - as well, when he was dead,
Which made them scratch their heads, while their
Perception turned right on its head!

It wasn't his to grant, which meant
He couldn't even start to say
Just what some life beyond could be,
That he, to them, might then portray.
It's like our cat, who looks to me
And must think that I know it all;
He doesn't have a clue about
The things by which I am in thrall.

Thus Job, when daring to complain,
Out from the whirlwind heard the voice
Of one who understood it all,
And, in the end, made Job rejoice:
The point's to know that you are loved,
It doesn’t matter one bit how,
Or what might happen up ahead;
Just shout for joy. For love. Right now.

Scott L. Barton

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

* * *

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
“Who is this that darkens counsel
by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?