Category Archives: Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #152

Today I want to explore a connection between several selections from the New Testament. The first is from the First Letter of Saint John:

13 I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. 16 If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.

18 We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.

(1 John 5:13-19)

Then we have First Timothy:

18 This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among them Hymenae′us and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

(1 Timothy 1:18-20)

Then we have this from First Corinthians:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men;  10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality[g] or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

(1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

The common link I see here is that when a Believer gives themselves over entirely to sin and commits a grave/deadly sin, then our attitude and actions towards them should change. We no longer are obliged to pray for them as before, and they should be removed from the Church- for their own good. We live in the Age of Grace, and they should spend some time outside the protection of the Church so they can begin to understand what they have lost. This paves the way for them to repent in genuine sorrow and once again join the Body of Christ.

As always, any readers are free to chime in with their own thoughts.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #151

Since today is Father’s Day, I think that some scripture concerning fathers would be appropriate. And yes, I am still alive. Just terribly busy from work, and also unmotivated as well. Trying to turn that around. Anyways, lets start with Sirach:

 

Listen to me your father, O children;
    act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety.
For the Lord honors a father above his children,
    and he confirms a mother’s right over her children.
Those who honor their father atone for sins,
    and those who respect their mother are like those who lay up treasure.
Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,
    and when they pray they will be heard.
Those who respect their father will have long life,
    and those who honor[a] their mother obey the Lord;
    they will serve their parents as their masters.[b]
Honor your father by word and deed,
    that his blessing may come upon you.
For a father’s blessing strengthens the houses of the children,
    but a mother’s curse uproots their foundations.
10 Do not glorify yourself by dishonoring your father,
    for your father’s dishonor is no glory to you.
11 The glory of one’s father is one’s own glory,
    and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.

12 My child, help your father in his old age,
and do not grieve him as long as he lives;
13 even if his mind fails, be patient with him;
because you have all your faculties do not despise him.
14 For kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
and will be credited to you against your sins;
15 in the day of your distress it will be remembered in your favor;
like frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away.
16 Whoever forsakes a father is like a blasphemer,
and whoever angers a mother is cursed by the Lord.

(Sirach 3:1-16)

Then we move these words of St. Paul, wherein he explains he is a spiritual father to the Church in Corinth:

14 I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I sent[c] you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. 21 What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

(1 Corinthians 4:14-21)

Lastly, we have this passage from the Gospel of John, wherein Jesus talks about the role of father and son, and then more specifically His relationship with His Father:

19 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father[e] does, the Son does likewise. 20 The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. 21 Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. 22 The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

(John 5:19-24)

I hope my readers had a good Father’s Day.

 

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He Is Risen!

Christ is Risen from the dead! By dying he trampled death, and to those in the tombs he granted life!

St. John Chrysostom’s Homily on Pascha (Easter), or the Hieratikon, is always a great read on this most holy of days:

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of Our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

   To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

These words by King David also are fitting on a day such as this:

The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein;
for he has founded it upon the seas,
    and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord,
    and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory!

(Psalm 24)

 

A wonderful and blessed Easter and Paschal season to all my readers.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #150

In the Eastern Catholic Churches the liturgy today celebrates the life of St. Mary of Egypt. For those unaware, she was a harlot who underwent a conversion in Jerusalem and then went to the desert for the rest of her life, living as an ascetic until she died.

Here is the wiki article about her.

In honor of her, here is some scripture about women in similar positions who became children of God.

First, we have this account from the Book of Joshua:

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went, and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, “Behold, certain men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring forth the men that have come to you, who entered your house; for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them; and she said, “True, men came to me, but I did not know where they came from; and when the gate was to be closed, at dark, the men went out; where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof, and hid them with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords; and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any man, because of you; for the Lord your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 Now then, swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign, 13 and save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she dwelt in the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours which you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down; and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 If any one goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we shall be guiltless; but if a hand is laid upon any one who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath which you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed; and she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

22 And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out from it the woman, and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her; and they brought all her kindred, and set them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and all within it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the harlot, and her father’s household, and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive; and she dwelt in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

(Joshua 2:1-21, 6:22-25)

Rahab is an ancestor of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. So one can fall far, and yet achieve greatness in the eyes of God. Then we have this story from Luke:

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”[d] 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

(Luke 7:6-50)

Mary had sinned much, and being forgiven that, loved our Lord all the more. Let us then, who hopefully have not fallen as far as she, love greatly too. For much has been given to us that we can never deserve or repay.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #149

I have tried to make it a practice to pray out a Psalm every day. A few days ago I was praying Psalm 11, and it caught my attention.

In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me,
    “Flee like a bird to the mountains;[a]
for look, the wicked bend the bow,
    they have fitted their arrow to the string,
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind.
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
and his soul hates the lover of violence.
On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur;
a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.

(Psalm 11)

In particular I was caught by this:

If the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

My understanding is that the foundations referred to there are the public order. So what David is saying here is that when society has been turned upside down, what can a just person do? Which leads to my next interesting observation- there is no answer given. No advice is offered here for the one caught in such a position. Probably because there is no advice that can be offered other than wait on the Lord.

Sometimes we just have to persevere- to hold out until God comes to our rescue. At least, that is how I see it. That message seems to be repeated in the New Testament as well:

11 When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 13 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

(Mark 13:11-13)

My readers are of course invited to off their own thoughts.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #148

I have been reading through St. Paul’s letter to the Romans the last few days. While he has some other letters which cover a lot of theological territory, I feel safe in saying that this epistle is special- it has a little something for everyone and everything. Whatever your theological pursuit, you can find an answer here. Part of it, I think, is because it is written more as a primer on Christian faith than as a response to specific questions or problems in the Church in Rome. A few passages have stood out to me so far, but I want to dedicate today’s post to Chapter 5.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

As I mentioned in my previous post, hope is a difficult thing for me. Yet Saint Paul lays it out clearly here why we should have hope, no matter what. God has already fulfilled a promise by the Gift of the Spirit. And he has promised yet more still, and we know his promises are sure.

While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

This passage always brings a tear to my eye. It is one thing to say that God loves us. But it is another thing to actually know God loves us. But we do know- because of what he has sacrificed on our behalf, despite our utter unworthiness. There is no room to ever say that God doesn’t care for us- He does, more than we can ever express.

12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned 13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Even the righteous figures of the Old Testament were still trapped by death. With the exceptions of Elijah and Enoch, they were waiting the savior to free them from the prison of Sheol.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We see here the contrast between the “first” Adam and the “second” Adam. Both of them, by their actions, made significant impacts on humanity and our fate. This should comfort us greatly. After all, it is obvious to anyone who looks that the magnitude of Adam’s effect on the world was terribly great. So Saint Paul reminds us that the effect of Jesus, by his redemptive sacrifice, is just as great, if not greater. For good is greater than evil, and so the effects of grace and righteousness must dwarf those of sin.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #147

Its been a while since I posted. We find ourselves in a new year, but to me, nothing has changed. Things are just as stagnant as they were before. Which leads me to this particular part of scripture:

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word;
30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
31 which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to thy people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,

“Behold, this child is set for the fall[d] and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is spoken against
35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

(Luke 2:22-35)

Simeon had been long awaiting that day. We can only imagine how many years, how many decades, he had waited for the Lord’s anointed to be revealed. That takes an impressive amount of patience, of endurance. But of course, Fortitude is one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. But it also takes Hope. Simeon had hope that he would live to see that day. And he did. Where so many before him had not, he himself was able to see it- to see Him.

Hope can be a powerful force. But we must be careful what we place our hope in. Our hope should be placed in God, not in the works or words of men.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have being.

Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
When his breath departs he returns to his earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.

Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed;
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners,
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless;
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign for ever,
    thy God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

(Psalm 146)

I have found myself increasingly adopting an attitude of resignation in my life. Even as most aspects of my life continue to improve, I continue to fail to fulfill my vocation. To say this is vexing would be the understatement of the year. And it puts my in a position where I am not sure what to do. Do I continue to hope for the best? Or should I put that hope aside and reorient my life with the expectation I never marry? Unlike Simeon, I don’t have the Lord telling me what will happen, one way or the other. I only have human beings. And I know better than to place my trust or hope in them.

A myriad of possibilities fill my mind. Perhaps I am missing the signals, perhaps I am screwing up somewhere, and so on. However, I prefer to think that this is a test of faith. God continually tests us, as though we were gold or silver in a crucible. One such way of doing so is not telling us what will happen next in our lives. To have us walk forward boldly without knowing where we are going. It requires true faith to keep going without knowing for sure. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear. (Hebrews 11:1-2).

The assurance I have is not as to any specifics of what will happen with me, only that God loves me and wants what is best for me. Which of course is not the same thing as what I want. And so I keep walking forward on that path, not knowing where my next step will place me- but with the assurance that at the end of the path is my Father’s House, where He is waiting for me.

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