Diocese of East Tennessee: Weekly Lectionary
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October 29, 2006
Proper 25 – B
Book of Common Prayer Lectionary
Isaiah 59:(1-4) 9-19
Psalm 13
Hebrews 5:12–6:1, 9-12
Mark 10:46-52


Revised Common Lectionary
Jeremiah 31:7-9 or
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 126
 or Psalm34:1-8 (19-22)
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52


Reflection and Response
Prayer Starter


The promise of restoration and healing flows through today’s readings. The prophets Isaiah (BCP) and Jeremiah (RCL) look forward to the rescue and renewal of God’s people. Job (Alternative RCL) has all his lost property restored because of his fidelity to God. The author of Hebrews affirms the promise of full salvation through Jesus Christ and continued growth for believers. In today’s gospel, Jesus grants physical and spiritual wholeness to blind Bartimaeus.


First Reading: Isaiah 59:1-19 (BCP)
Today’s reading addresses the exiled Israelites who returned from Babylon. The community has been restored, the temple has been rebuilt and the sacrificial system has been reinstituted. But disillusionment at the difficulties of resettlement has set in. There has been a breakdown of justice and a return to idolatry.

The community is suffering the effects of the curse on those who break the covenant, an inevitable consequence of faithlessness to God. There is no Davidic ruler to intervene, literally “intercede,” either with the people or on their behalf with God. Thus the Lord takes action in a positive way to bring about righteousness among the people.
Isaiah 59:1-19
See, the LORD’s hand is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
Rather, your iniquities have been barriers
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood,
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies,
your tongue mutters wickedness.
No one brings suit justly,
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
conceiving mischief and begetting iniquity.
They hatch adders’ eggs,
and weave the spider’s web;
whoever eats their eggs dies,
and the crushed egg hatches out a viper.
Their webs cannot serve as clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
Their feet run to evil,
and they rush to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths.
Their roads they have made crooked;
no one who walks in them knows peace.
Therefore justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not reach us;
we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness;
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
We grope like the blind along a wall,
groping like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
among the vigorous as though we were dead.
We all growl like bears;
like doves we moan mournfully.
We wait for justice, but there is none;
for salvation, but it is far from us.
For our transgressions before you are many
and our sins testify against us.
Our transgressions indeed are with us,
and we know our iniquities:
transgressing, and denying the LORD,
and turning away from following our God,
talking oppression and revolt,
conceiving lying words
and uttering them from the heart.
Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
for truth stumbles in the public square,
and uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking,
and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.
The LORD saw it,
and it displeased him that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm brought him victory,
and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle.
According to their deeds, so will he repay;
wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render requital.
So those in the west shall fear the name of the LORD,
and those in the east, his glory;
for he will come like a pent-up stream
that the wind of the LORD drives on.


First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-9 (RCL)
Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry to Judah in 627 B.C. and ended it about 580 B.C. He spans the period leading up to Judah’s final defeat by the Babylonians (587 B.C.), the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple, and the exile of a good part of the population.

Today’s reading comes from a section (chaps. 30–33) consisting of promises of restoration (30:1-4). In it are gathered Jeremiah’s oracles of hope for an eventual renewal for Israel. Jeremiah envisions the restoration of Judah by imagining God’s fashioning a new exodus.
Jeremiah 31:7-9
For thus says the LORD:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
Save, O LORD, your people,
the remnant of Israel.”
See, I am going to bring them
from the land of the north,
and gather them
from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which
they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.


Psalm: Psalm 13 (BCP)
This psalm is a lament, a psalm form consisting of a complaint, a request and an expression of trust and praise. The psalmist feels abandoned by God and pleads for God’s return. He concludes by making a decision to trust in God’s steadfast love.
Psalm 13
How long, O LORD?
Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide
your face from me?

How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?

How long shall my enemy
be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me,
O LORD my God!

Give light to my eyes,
or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say,
“I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice
because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.


Psalm: Psalm 126 (RCL)
In this psalm the people sing for joy over their deliverance from captivity. The Lord’s restoration of Zion, the joy of the people, and the astonishment of the nations are recalled (vv. 1-3). A plea for continued restoration in the present (v. 4), for a change in fortune as dramatic as the effect of water in an arid land, leads to a promise of renewed joy to come out of sorrow (vv. 5-6). Just as God brought Israel out of Egypt, to the astonishment of the nations (Exodus 15:13-16; Deuteronomy 2:25), so God miraculously restored the fortunes of Zion again.
Psalm 126
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then it was said among the nations,
The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.


Alternative First Reading: Job 42:1-6, 10-17 (RCL)

After Yahweh speaks, Job’s lament in dust and ashes ends and a new response of praise begins. Job ceases his dispute, acknowledges God’s power and wisdom, recognizes his incompetence and praises the wisdom and justice of God’s mysterious ways.

Although God vindicates Job’s innocence and denounces the dogmatism of his friends (42:7-17), God’s ways are still not to be comprehended. The result is a kind of stand off. God does not give Job the explanation he wants, and Job does not surrender his own integrity. Rather, Job yields to the Lord and is transformed by his experience of confrontation (42:5).

The resolution of the problem of the just person who suffers is hidden in the mystery of the person of God. God is truly free of all human restraints, even beyond the highest human standards of justice and mercy (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15). At the furthest extreme, God remains a “hidden God” (Isaiah 45:15) shrouded in unfathomable mystery.
Job 42:1-6, 10-17

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.


Alternative Psalm: Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22) (RCL)
This psalm of thanksgiving has a strong didactic element similar to the wisdom teachings. It is an acrostic, each verse beginning with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The psalmist first gives thanks for deliverance, then testifies to God’s goodness, calling upon the other worshipers to share the fruits of his experience. Finally, the psalmist elaborates upon the meaning of “the fear of the Lord” and its consequences.
Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22)

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD,
and was saved from every trouble.

The angel of the LORD
encamps around those who fear him,
and delivers them.

O taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD rescues them from them all.

He keeps all their bones;
not one of them will be broken.

Evil brings death to the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.


Second Reading: Hebrews 5:12–6:1, 9-12 (BCP)
The author of Hebrews breaks away from his presentation of Christ as high priest to reprove and to encourage his audience, which has failed to progress in Christian development. Indeed, these Christians are still in spiritual infancy and have not yet developed a standard for moral behavior.

These believers had the fundamental disposition of love and service needed for growth, but they needed encouragement to persevere as did the saints of the Old Testament. Those who have learned the “basic teaching about Christ” (v 6:1) must continue to grow in their knowledge and understanding.
Hebrews 5:12–6:1, 9-12
For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you again
the basic elements of the oracles of God.
You need milk, not solid food;
for everyone who lives on milk,
being still an infant,
is unskilled in the word of righteousness.
But solid food is for the mature,
for those whose faculties have been trained
by practice to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore let us go on toward perfection,
leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ,
and not laying again the foundation:
repentance from dead works and faith toward God.
Even though we speak in this way, beloved,
we are confident of better things in your case,
things that belong to salvation.
For God is not unjust;
he will not overlook your work
and the love that you showed for his sake
in serving the saints, as you still do.
And we want each one of you
to show the same diligence
so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end,
so that you may not become sluggish,
but imitators of those who through faith and patience
inherit the promises.


Second Reading: Hebrews 7:23-28 (RCL)
In the first part of chapter 7, the author describes the superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham, thus also demonstrating the superiority of his priesthood to the Levitical priesthood. Jesus’ priestly claim is based not upon physical descent nor upon ineffective law. It is based upon his indestructible life and is attested by the divine oath.

Today’s reading points out that Jesus’ priesthood is also superior because of its permanence—he will forever function as our high priest—and because of his character—he is holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners. Thus Jesus’ sacrifice of himself, “once and for all” (v. 27), as he fulfills the role of high priest and sacrifice, was all that was needed, now and forever, to redeem humanity.
Hebrews 7:23-28
Furthermore, the former priests were many in number,
because they were prevented by death
from continuing in office;
but he holds his priesthood permanently,
because he continues forever.
Consequently he is able for all time
to save those who approach God through him,
since he always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest,
holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners,
and exalted above the heavens.
Unlike the other high priests,
he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day,
first for his own sins,
and then for those of the people;
this he did once for all when he offered himself.
For the law appoints as high priests
those who are subject to weakness,
but the word of the oath,
which came later than the law,
appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.


Gospel: Mark 10:46-52
The story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus is filled with vivid detail. Bartimaeus calls Jesus “Son of David,” a messianic title, recognizing Jesus’ true identity. Although blind, Bartimaeus can “see” Jesus more clearly than others because of his faith.

No healing word or action of Jesus is recorded, just a response to Bartimaeus’s faith. On one level, his faith, in the sense of confidence and persistence, is answered with healing. On another level, his recognition of Jesus is answered with salvation. The phrase “made you well” means both heal and save. Bartimaeus responds by becoming a disciple.

This story is similar to the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida (8:22-26). These two stories of new sight frame the whole section dealing with Jesus’ predictions of the passion and the disciples’ misunderstanding. Eyes must be opened to see the true meaning of Jesus’ messianic suffering and so correctly follow him on this new way to life with God.
Mark 10:46-52
As Jesus 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.


Reflection and Response
Counselors say that many people will prefer a known evil to the unknown. They may cling to an identity as abused child, battered wife, long-suffering spouse of an alcoholic, or jilted lover because to surrender that identity seems like giving up themselves. Bartimaeus might have wondered if he would lose his identity as a blind beggar.

Yet Bartimaeus accepts his blindness as past. It does not curtail his freedom to hope for change. Thus he surrenders to the mystery of the future. Just as he casts away his cloak, he flings aside his reservations and his insecure clinging to the status quo.

The road on which he follows Jesus is leading to Jerusalem and ultimately to Calvary. Again in contrast to the apostles, Bartimaeus wants to follow, even into pain, if it means he can remain close to Christ. His step has a sureness due not only to restored vision but because he knows deeply the truth of the crowd’s assurance: “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”

Thus, the story ends on the note of grace accepted. Can we imagine God’s exuberant joy?

Quietly consider:
Where today can I accept God’s gift of new insight, unafraid of the changes it will bring to my life?

Prayer Starter
God, all-powerful and ever-living, you sent your eternal Word to lead us from darkness into the light of faith. Open my eyes so I might see...


©Copyright 2006 Living The Good News


The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee
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