Category Archives: Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #132

Two passages from St. Paul’s epistles stood out to me in the last week, and I wanted to share them with you. The first is from the letter to the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

10 Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:6-10)

One thing about reading St. Paul’s letters is we know there have been other letters sent, often to him, but sometimes from him. So there is this sense of catching part of a conversation or dialogue. Yet, while we might like to know the full context, we are still hearing the authoritative (and thus important) part of that conversation.

Here we can see St. Paul lamenting several things. What I read from this is as follows:

  • The Galatians are very quickly abandoning the true faith
  • They are ditching the truth for the sake of another gospel
  • Someone else is treading to lead them astray
  • Anyone who tries to lead you from the truth is automatically anathema
  • The Galatians are apparently doing this to please men

From the later context of the letter we can see what is going on: there has been a wave of “Judaizers” coming to the Church in Galatia who are trying to insist that Gentile converts to Christianity adopt completely the Mosaic law. This is leading the Church in Galatia astray- they are losing sight of the important of faith and think that following the works of the Mosaic law is all they need to be saved. And so St. Paul sent his letter to correct this.

What intrigues me is the last part, because it seems the most important to us today. The Galatians were evidently doing this in order to please other human beings (the Judaizers and presumably other Jews). While the particular currents of heresy might ebb and flow throughout history, the desire to please human beings remains. And now, just as then, it can lead us astray. Thus, the central lesson of this passage is to remind us that we must never forsake the truth for the sake of popularity.

The second passage that interests me is from the Second Letter to the Corinthians:

We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedo′nia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. Accordingly we have urged Titus that as he had already made a beginning, he should also complete among you this gracious work. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us—see that you excel in this gracious work also.

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my advice: it is best for you now to complete what a year ago you began not only to do but to desire, 11 so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not. 13 I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, 14 but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

(2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

Generosity must come from the heart. It can never be ordered or compelled. Taxation is never generosity, no matter how the money is spent. It can never be charity, for charity is love, and again, love comes from the heart. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18). We pay taxes out of fear, so they cannot meet that requirement.

St. Paul understood this, and so his invitation to the Corinthians to be generous was itself an act of love. He was giving them an opportunity to perfect themselves in their faith journey.

 

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #131

It has been over a month since I’ve written any of these posts. Not sure where the time went. Anyways, time to correct that- especially since today is Pentecost. Lately I have been going through the Letter to the Romans. This section caught my interest earlier today:

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.

(Romans 5:15-21)

Given how much terrible darkness came about as a result of the fall, it is always reassuring to be reminded that even greater things have come about from the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. God saved the best for last. In the spirit of which (sorry, couldn’t help it), I thought this passage was appropriate:

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

(John 2:1-11)

One of the areas where I am weak is in hope. It is something which I sometimes (too often, really) lose sight of. I need passages like these to remind myself that greater things are to come, especially at the end of the Age.

And of course, since today is Pentecost, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Par′thians and Medes and E′lamites and residents of Mesopota′mia, Judea and Cappado′cia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phryg′ia and Pamphyl′ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre′ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

(Acts 2:1-11)

I will leave with this Byzantine prayer which speaks far better than I ever could:

O Holy Spirit
Mighty Defender
To all who love You
Comfort You give.
Everywhere present
Fountain of Virtues
Without Your kindness
No one could live.

O Holy Spirit
Treasury of Blessings
Come, as was promised
Live-giving Flame
Come, dwell within us
Quicken our cool hearts
Strengthen our purpose
To praise Your Name.

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #130

Today is Thomas Sunday. So named because of the following passage from the Gospel of John:

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

(John 20: 24-29)

Here is what St. John Chrysostom had to say about this particular passage:

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said, Except I shall see in His hands —I will not believe.

1. As to believe carelessly and in a random way, comes of an over-easy temper; so to be beyond measure curious and meddlesome, marks a most gross understanding. On this account Thomas is held to blame. For he believed not the Apostles when they said, We have seen the Lord; not so much mistrusting them, as deeming the thing to be impossible, that is to say, the resurrection from the dead. Since he says not, I do not believe you, but, Except I put my hand— I do not believe. But how was it, that when all were collected together, he alone was absent? Probably after the dispersion which had lately taken place, he had not returned even then. But do thou, when you see the unbelief of the disciple, consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself with His wounds, and comes in order to save even the one, though he was grosser than the rest; on which account indeed he sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would not even trust his eyes. For he said not, Except I see, but, Except I handle, he says, lest what he saw might somehow be an apparition. Yet the disciples who told him these things, were at the time worthy of credit, and so was He that promised; yet, since he desired more, Christ did not deprive him even of this.

And why does He not appear to him straightway, instead of after eight days? John 20:26 In order that being in the mean time continually instructed by the disciples, and hearing the same thing, he might be inflamed to more eager desire, and be more ready to believe for the future. But whence knew he that His side had been opened? From having heard it from the disciples. How then did he believe partly, and partly not believe? Because this thing was very strange and wonderful. But observe, I pray you, the truthfulness of the disciples, how they hide no faults, either their own or others’, but record them with great veracity.

Jesus again presents himself to them, and waits not to be requested by Thomas, nor to hear any such thing, but before he had spoken, Himself prevented him, and fulfilled his desire; showing that even when he spoke those words to the disciples, He was present. For He used the same words, and in a manner conveying a sharp rebuke, and instruction for the future. For having said,

Reach hither your finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither your hand, and thrust it into My side; He added,

And be not faithless, but believing.

Do you see that his doubt proceeded from unbelief? But it was before he had received the Spirit; after that, it was no longer so, but, for the future, they were perfected.

And not in this way only did Jesus rebuke him, but also by what follows; for when he, being fully satisfied, breathed again, and cried aloud,

My Lord, and my God, He says,
Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.

For this is of faith, to receive things not seen; since, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 And here He pronounces blessed not the disciples only, but those also who after them should believe. Yet, says some one, the disciples saw and believed. Yes, but they sought nothing of the kind, but from the proof of the napkins, they straightway received the word concerning the Resurrection, and before they saw the body, exhibited all faith. When therefore any one in the present day say, I would that I had lived in those times, and had seen Christ working miracles, let them reflect, that, Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.

It is worth enquiring, how an incorruptible body showed the prints of the nails, and was tangible by a mortal hand. But be not thou disturbed; what took place was a matter of condescension. For that which was so subtle and light as to enter in when the doors were shut, was free from all density ; but this marvel was shown, that the Resurrection might be believed, and that men might know that it was the Crucified One Himself, and that another rose not in His stead. On this account He arose bearing the signs of the Cross, and on this account He eats. At least the Apostles everywhere made this a sign of the Resurrection, saying, We, who ate and drank with Him.Acts 10:41 As therefore when we see Him walking on the waves before the Crucifixion, we do not say, that that body is of a different nature, but of our own; so after the Resurrection, when we see Him with the prints of the nails, we will no more say, that he is therefore corruptible. For He exhibited these appearances on account of the disciple.

(Source)

I end the post with this passage from Ecclesiastes, along with some thoughts:

12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be numbered.

16 I said to myself, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

(Ecclesiastes 1: 12-18)

Reading this passage, the truth of it leapt off the page. There are plenty of times in my life when I wish I wasn’t nearly so smart as I am. I imagine that stupidity would make me much happier with my life. I would be blind to most of what was going on around me, and accordingly would be not nearly as troubled as I am. Anyone else ever have similar thoughts?

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #129

In light of last week’s post, and the fact that this is Lent, we start today’s post off with another passage from the Book of Sirach:

Do not desire a multitude of useless children,
    nor rejoice in ungodly sons.
If they multiply, do not rejoice in them,
    unless the fear of the Lord is in them.
Do not trust in their survival,
    and do not rely on their multitude;
for one is better than a thousand,
    and to die childless is better than to have ungodly children.
For through one man of understanding a city will be filled with people,
    but through a tribe of lawless men it will be made desolate.
Many such things my eye has seen,
    and my ear has heard things more striking than these.

In an assembly of sinners a fire will be kindled,
    and in a disobedient nation wrath was kindled.
He was not propitiated for the ancient giants
    who revolted in their might.
He did not spare the neighbors of Lot,
    whom he loathed on account of their insolence.
He showed no pity for a nation devoted to destruction,
    for those destroyed in their sins;
10 nor for the six hundred thousand men on foot,
    who rebelliously assembled in their stubbornness.
11 Even if there is only one stiff-necked person,
    it will be a wonder if he remains unpunished.
For mercy and wrath are with the Lord;
    he is mighty to forgive, and he pours out wrath.
12 As great as his mercy, so great is also his reproof;
    he judges a man according to his deeds.
13 The sinner will not escape with his plunder,
    and the patience of the godly will not be frustrated.
14 He will make room for every act of mercy;
    every one will receive in accordance with his deeds.

(Sirach 16:1-14)

Last week the topic of children as a liability was raised. It is clear that Ben Sira regarded children as something that could be either a blessing or a curse. If they turn out well, then they are a blessing of the greatest nature. But if they turn out wicked- well, you better watch out. God find no joy or happiness in wicked offspring.  In fact, he makes clear through the Prophet Malachi what he wants:

 Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life?And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth.

(Malachi 2:15)

So parents have a special responsibility that they face- raising children in righteousness. As much as I want to, and feel called to marry and have children, I can appreciate the fact that my responsibilities are that much lighter without either.

St. Paul agrees that this responsibility exists, and in his first Letter to Timothy explains that it is part of the process of sanctification for mothers:

15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

(1 Timothy 2:15)

St. John Chrysostom explains in his homily concerning 1 Timothy 2 that this applies to fathers and mothers alike:

Hear this, you fathers and mothers, that your bringing up of children shall not lose its reward. This also he says, as he proceeds, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children.1 Timothy 5:10 Among other commendations he reckons this one, for it is no light praise to devote to God those children which are given them of God. For if the basis, the foundation which they lay be good, great will be their reward; as great, if they neglect it, will be their punishment. It was on account of his children that Eli perished. For he ought to have admonished them, and indeed he did admonish them, but not as he ought; but from his unwillingness to give them pain he destroyed both himself and them. Hear this, you fathers, bring your children up with great care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Children are indeed a blessing. But like all the blessing of God, they place a responsibility upon us to use them rightly. Failing to do so brings us not further blessing, but condemnation. Our Lord and Savior explained it thus:

14 “For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’

(Matthew 25:14-30)

This last parable is one that I try to keep at heart at all times. God has given me much, and expects much from me. We are called to be fruitful in our lives, not barren like the Fig tree. At least, not unless we want to end up like it.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #128

Today’s first passages comes from the book of Sirach. I was inspired to use it thanks to this comment by Gunner Q about how daughters should be viewed as a potential liability. He is not the first to make this observation:

A daughter keeps her father secretly wakeful,
    and worry over her robs him of sleep;
when she is young, lest she do not marry,
    or if married, lest she be hated;
10 while a virgin, lest she be defiled
    or become pregnant in her father’s house;
or having a husband, lest she prove unfaithful,
    or, though married, lest she be barren.
11 Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter,
    lest she make you a laughingstock to your enemies,
a byword in the city and notorious among the people,
    and put you to shame before the great multitude.

(Sirach 42:9-11)

An exchange started to develop in my most recent post. Lest it get any worse, I quote from this part of the gospel of Matthew as a refresher course:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

(Matthew 7:1-5)

Finally, these words of hope in the Lenten season:

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #127

We have started the period of Lent. This is a period of fasting and repentance- of turning back to the Lord. In that spirit, here are some passages from scripture which I found appropriate:

In the fourth year of King Dari′us, the word of the Lord came to Zechari′ah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. Now the people of Bethel had sent Share′zer and Reg′em-mel′ech and their men, to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to ask the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?” Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? When Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, with her cities round about her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited, were not these the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets?”

(Zechariah 7:1-7)

A good gospel accompaniment would be this passage:

16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

(Matthew 6:16-18)

Fasting is of little worth if our hearts are not in the right place. If we fast for God, then our reward will come from God. But if we fast for the sake of men, our reward will come from them- and thus perish in the end. Our actions must mirror our internal state- otherwise we are just stage actors.

A key part of this is turning towards the Lord and repenting.

25 Turn to the Lord and forsake your sins;
    pray in his presence and lessen your offenses.
26 Return to the Most High and turn away from iniquity,
    and hate abominations intensely.
27 Who will sing praises to the Most High in Hades,
    as do those who are alive and give thanks?
28 From the dead, as from one who does not exist, thanksgiving has ceased;
    he who is alive and well sings the Lord’s praises.
29 How great is the mercy of the Lord,
    and his forgiveness for those who turn to him!
30 For all things cannot be in men,
    since a son of man is not immortal.
31 What is brighter than the sun? Yet its light fails.
    So flesh and blood devise evil.
32 He marshals the host of the height of heaven;
    but all men are dust and ashes.

(Sirach 17:24-32)

King David, a man who was all too familiar with sin, understand the importance of repentance well:

Be mindful of thy mercy, O Lord, and of thy steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth, or my trangressions;
    according to thy steadfast love remember me,
    for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For thy name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.

(Psalm 25:6-11)

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to thee,
    and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my trangressions to the Lord”;
    then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let every one who is godly
    offer prayer to thee;
at a time of distress, in the rush of great waters,
    they shall not reach him.

(Psalm 32:1-6)

And of course, it is important to keep in mind how Jesus opened his ministry after being tempted in the desert:

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper′na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zeb′ulun and Naph′tali, 14 that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali,
toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

(Matthew 4:12-17)

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #126

[Sorry for the late post. Busy day, and this post itself was rushed out. Apologies for missed mistakes and poor construction.]

In my most recent post I explored women’s dress. Today I want to explore some scripture that deals with the matter. Here we have St. Paul’s 1st Letter to Timothy:

also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire 10 but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.

(1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Then we have St. Peter’s 1st Letter:

Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

(1 Peter 3:3-4)

I know there are some other passages that would be appropriate, but I cannot think of them at the moment.

But what we have here is basic teaching on modesty. As I’ve argued elsewhere, modesty as the Christian understands it stands two functions: the first is to reduce sexual temptation, and the second is to avoid avarice and envy. Both of them, however, have as their base the following:

Wearing clothing or other adornment  such that others are not tempted into sin.

At the same time, that can be extended to include the wearer as well, who can no doubt be affected by the clothes she (or he) is wearing.

From looking at the admonishments above, and the previous post, we can see that a Christian understanding of modesty, as far as women is concerned, is about alleviating tendencies women face when dressing. As was pointed out in Dressed to Impress by Maea, “Women seem to fall into one of 3 groups– the women who dress for other women, the ones who dress for men, and the ones who dress for the sake of beauty.” Modesty aims to target the first two groups, or tendencies (which I think fits better).

The first tendency is to dress “for” other women. That is, to dress to impress other women with their own attractiveness, to show off their “value”, as well as to show off their wealth and social status. The second is when women dress “for” men. That is, to dress to impress men (or a specific man) with their sex appeal.

Modesty aims to stop both. It limits the signs of social status and wealth, and limits displays of attractiveness. Modest dress thus helps the woman who dresses as well as the men and women who see her later. Hopefully that third tendency, the one women should aim for, is what is elevated instead. At least, that is how I see it. Perhaps my readers have their own thoughts.

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