Musings on the Lectionary Readings


Musings on the Lectionary Readings

for Proper 23 - Ordinary 28 Sunday

(paired to the Gospel)

Oct. 12, 2003

by Philip W. Gilman                                                                                                                                                                       







Psalm 90: 12--17

·        Teach us to count our days rightly,

                that we may obtain a wise heart. (12)

What does this mean: to count our days?  Do you suppose that YHWH is concerned with how long you live?  Or with how you live?  Think, Christian.


Amos 5: 6--7, 10--15

·        Seek the LORD, and you will live,

            Else [YHWH] will rush like fire upon the [Catholic Church]

            And consume [Protestant churches]* with none to quench it. (6)

Christians are far too prone, even when reading the Hebrew Scriptures as symbolic or metaphorical, to take the House of Joseph and "the House of Israel" (or Judah) as if they pertained solely to the ancient tribes.  The Prophets preached fire and brimstone to them in their time, but that is history and carries no message for church folk today.

But Scripture also declares:

·        You have been born again, not of mortal but of immortal parentage, through the living and enduring word of God. (1Pe. 1: 23)  The word of God is alive and active. (Heb. 4: 12a) 

If you believe the Bible, and subscribe to Jesus' statement: 'God is not God of the dead but of the living' (Mat. 22: 32), then you cannot escape (nor explain away) the present-day purport and poignant validity of the Hebrew Scriptures.

·        [Ah,] you who turn justice into wormwood

            And hurl righteousness to the ground!

[Seek the LORD,] (7, sic) Amos admonishes, using very strong and dire words with God's chosen people, the redeemed of the Lord.  Can you fathom the utter seriousness of God's concern here?  To say Seek the LORD to the Church!

·        It is [YHWH] who hurls destruction upon strongholds,

            So that ruin comes upon fortresses! (9)

Christian, do you, in your arrogance, presume that you are safe in your church tradition and secure in your scriptural interpretation?

·        You have built houses of hewn stone,

            But you shall not live in them; (11d,e)

You have built [churches] of hewn stone,

But you shall not [worship] in them;

·        For I have noted how many are your crimes,

            And how countless your sins--

            You enemies of the righteous (12a-c).

Such is God's Word to the Church!  Are you listening?  Or do you continue in your self-deception that you are the righteous?  Amos asserts otherwise.  Hearken to the Prophet's admonition:

·        Seek good and not evil,

            That you may live,

            And that the LORD, the God of Hosts,

            May truly be with you,

            As you think. (14)

Note well the last line: As you think.  God recognizes your unacknowledged fear and frailty, and is saying that what you think is not necessarily what is.


Hebrews 4: 12--16

The word of God is alive and active.  It cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword, piercing so deeply that it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it discriminates among the purposes and thoughts of the heart. (12)  And yet you do not feel any pain from the words of Amos?  Has your presumption rendered you numb and senseless?

Nothing in creation can hide from [God], everything lies bare and exposed to the eyes of [the living God] to whom we must render account. (13)

Think about it, Christian.


Mark 10: 17--31

Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.' (18)  Christian, you have been delivered by YHWH "on eagles' wings" out of slavery, you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and raised up with Christ.  But the Word of the Lord to you is this: 'No one is good except God alone.'  Not even you.  Think about that.

Think seriously, Christian.

*  Following the LXX, as the TNK footnotes: "the House of Israel."