Diocese of East Tennessee: Weekly Lectionary
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June 25, 2006
Proper 7 – B

Book of Common Prayer Lectionary
Job 38:1-11, 16-18
Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Mark 4:35-41; (5:1-20)

Revised Common Lectionary
Job 38:1-11
Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

Reflection and Response
Prayer Starter

Today's readings remind and reaffirm God's complete command over all creation. God's reply to Job asserts the majesty of God as the Creator and Ruler of the world. The psalmist praises the power of God, who delivers the distressed. Paul commends the ministry of reconciliation to all Christians. In the gospel, Jesus stills a storm at sea, revealing that he shares God's power over creation.

First Reading: Job 38:1-11, 16-18
The book of Job struggles with the mystery of why good people suffer when they ought to be rewarded for their good. The book was composed by adding poetic dialogue to a familiar folk legend.

The basic story found in the prose sections that begin and end the book (1:1–2:13, 42:7-17) tells of the righteous sufferer, the proverbial 'patient Job' (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; James 5:11). This story may have been set down in writing as early as the time of David and Solomon (1000–800 B.C.). The poetic sections that have been inserted into the prose story—the dialogues of Job and his three comforters about God's ways of justice and the final response of the Lord to Job—are post-exilic and date from between 600–300 B.C.

Speaking out of profound faith, Job has asserted his innocence and challenged God to answer him (31:35-40) and account for his suffering. In today's reading,   the Lord speaks from the whirlwind in fulfillment of Job's longing (13:22, 23:5, 30:20). Although God vindicates Job's innocence and denounces the dogmatism of his friends (42:7-17), God's ways are 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 38:1-11, 16-18
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?
"Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb?—
when I made the clouds its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed bounds for it,
and set bars and doors,
and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stopped'?

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.

Psalm: Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
This psalm encourages those whom God has rescued to give praise. Today's selection describes the fourth in a series of descriptions of divine rescues. Verses 23-32 portray divine rescues from the catastrophes of sea travel. God's action prompts a response of thanksgiving by the rescued.

Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the mighty waters;
they saw the deeds of the LORD,
his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven,
they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their calamity;
they reeled and staggered like drunkards,
and were at their wits' end.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out from their distress;
he made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad because they had quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.

Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (BCP)
Paul continues to explain his ministry and the ministry of all. Christ's love for all, manifested in the crucifixion, 'leaves us no choice' (NEB). "All have died"—that is, have died to a self-centered life in order to live a Christ-centered life (Romans 7:4-6; Galatians 2:19-20), as shown forth in baptism (Romans 6:3-11).

Thus now no one may be treated simply "from a human point of view" (v. 16)—literally, according to the flesh, for everyone in Christ is now a "new creation" (v. 17), capable of a new kind of human existence.

As Christians have been reconciled to God through Christ, so they now should carry the message of reconciliation to others, inviting them to accept the forgiveness of God. This forgiveness is through Christ, who was "made...to be sin" (v. 21) so that Christians might be in the right relationship with God. This new relationship is the basis upon which those "in Christ" may, even though they are still living in the midst of the old creation, show forth the nature of the new creation. All former relationships and attitudes, "those from a human point of view," are now to be transformed.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (BCP)
For the love of Christ urges us on,
because we are convinced
that one has died for all;
therefore all have died.
And he died for all,
so that those who live
might live no longer for themselves,
but for him who died
and was raised for them.
From now on, therefore,
we regard no one from a human point of view;
even though we once knew Christ
from a human point of view,
we know him no longer in that way.
So if anyone is in Christ,
there is a new creation:
everything old has passed away;
see, everything has become new!
All this is from God,
who reconciled us to himself through Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
that is, in Christ
God was reconciling the world to himself,
not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
since God is making his appeal through us;
we entreat you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin
who knew no sin,
so that in him
we might become the righteousness of God.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 (RCL)
Paul continues his explanation of how God's reconciling action is made manifest in his own mission and activity. Paul appeals to the Corinthians to “work together with him” (v. 1) so that God's merciful gift of salvation will not be “in vain.” Now is the moment when God's saving love becomes a reality in their lives.

But Paul is realistic when he notes that participating in God's reconciling activity requires a cost for the disciple. In fact, in a curious reversal of the usual practice, Paul recommends himself as an authentic Christian missionary by boasting not in his successes but in his apparent failures and sufferings. He catalogs his own hardships in the ministry (vv. 4-8) as an indicator of the type of things a Christian will face. To those outside, the external appearances never coincide with the internal reality. Contradictions abound because results come not from the minister but from God working in all for salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 (RCL)
As we work together with him,
we urge you also
not to accept the grace of God in vain.
For he says,
"At an acceptable time
I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation
I have helped you."
See, now is the acceptable time;
see, now is the day of salvation!
We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way,
so that no fault may be found with our ministry,
but as servants of God
we have commended ourselves in every way:
through great endurance,
in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
beatings, imprisonments, riots,
labors, sleepless nights, hunger;
by purity, knowledge, patience,
kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love,
truthful speech, and the power of God;
with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand
and for the left;
in honor and dishonor,
in ill repute and good repute.
We are treated
as impostors, and yet are true;
as unknown, and yet are well known;
as dying, and see—we are alive;
as punished, and yet not killed;
as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
as poor, yet making many rich;
as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians;
our heart is wide open to you.
There is no restriction in our affections,
but only in yours.
In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41; (5:1-20)
Today's story of the stilling of the storm comes at the end of Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom in parables (4:1-34) and serves as a transition as Jesus and the disciples cross the Sea of Galilee to inaugurate the kingdom ministry for the Gentiles with a massive exorcism of a “legion” of demons. In chapters 5–8 they will crisscross the Lake performing similar signs and wonders on both the Jewish and Gentile sides of the Sea.

The storm on the sea not only illustrates the situation of the disciples but also that of Mark's community—tossed about by the chaos around them with Jesus apparently asleep at the steering rudder (v. 38). In their panic, the disciples awaken Jesus, who calms the storm with a word. Then Jesus issues the first of a set of challenges to them (7:18, 8:17, 21, 9:19) to come to faith in the rule of God as shown in him (4:40).

The great storm is a test of what the disciples have learned from Jesus' teaching (4:34). But as always in Mark's gospel, the disciples fail to demonstrate that they have understood. Jesus' demonstration of power over nature is another indication that Jesus' ministry participates in God's power. God alone has power over the seas (Psalm 65:7; Job 12:15), even over the primeval waters of chaos (Isaiah 51:10; Jeremiah 5:22). Jesus “rebuked the wind” (v. 39), the same Greek word used to describe Jesus' power to drive out demons (1:25, 9:25), saying to the sea literally ‘be muzzled' (as in 1:25).

The story of the healing of the demoniac is set in predominately Gentile territory on the east of the Sea of Galilee—hence the presence of pigs, considered unclean by Jews (Deuteronomy 14:8; Leviticus 11:7-8). In scripture, demons apparently have no independent existence in our world but must be embodied to carry on their destructive work. Confronted by Jesus, the demon tries to use Jesus' name to bind him (1:24) recognizing his association with Israel's God. His answer to Jesus' question vacillates between the singular and the plural.

The herdsmen's eyewitness reports lead, not to faith, but to fear among the inhabitants because no ordinary man possesses such awesome power. The demoniac, however, begs to become a disciple, to "be with" Jesus—the first condition of discipleship for Mark (3:14). He is told rather to proclaim God's mercy to his own household and to those in the Gentile area. And, indeed, following Jesus instruction, he becomes the first apostle to the Gentiles.

Mark 4:35-41; (5:1-20)
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them,
"Let us go across to the other side."
And leaving the crowd behind,
they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.
Other boats were with him.
A great windstorm arose,
and the waves beat into the boat,
so that the boat was already being swamped.
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion;
and they woke him up and said to him,
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up and rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!"

Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
He said to them, "Why are you afraid?
Have you still no faith?"
And they were filled with great awe
and said to one another,
"Who then is this,
that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

(They came to the other side of the sea,
to the country of the Gerasenes.
And when he had stepped out of the boat,
immediately a man out of the tombs
with an unclean spirit met him.
He lived among the tombs;
and no one could restrain him any more,
even with a chain;
for he had often been restrained
with shackles and chains,
but the chains he wrenched apart,
and the shackles he broke in pieces;
and no one had the strength to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains
he was always howling and bruising himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance,
he ran and bowed down before him;
and he shouted at the top of his voice,
“What have you to do with me,
Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God,
do not torment me.”
For he had said to him,
“Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding;
and the unclean spirits begged him,
“Send us into the swine; let us enter them.”
So he gave them permission.
And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine;
and the herd, numbering about two thousand,
rushed down the steep bank into the sea,
and were drowned in the sea.

The swineherds ran off
and told it in the city and in the country.
Then people came to see
what it was that had happened.
They came to Jesus
and saw the demoniac sitting there,
clothed and in his right mind,
the very man who had had the legion;
and they were afraid.
Those who had seen what had happened
to the demoniac and to the swine reported it.
Then they began to beg Jesus
to leave their neighborhood.

As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed by demons
begged him that he might be with him.
But Jesus refused, and said to him,
“Go home to your friends,
and tell them how much the Lord has done for you,
and what mercy he has shown you.”
And he went away
and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
how much Jesus had done for him;
and everyone was amazed.)

Reflection and Response
Much as we would like to think otherwise, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And how much better to fear God who saves than to fear the things that threaten to destroy us!

When the Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind giving an awesome view of creative power and might, Job's heart trembles before the one with whom he had contended so ignorantly and reproachfully. His fear is not only the beginning of wisdom, but also the beginning of real faith, as his ensuing humility leads to confession and acceptance by the Lord. Job makes one of the greatest confessions of faith in the Bible: "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God" (Job. 19:25-26).

Job's spiritual experience is repeated by the disciples' experience on the Sea of Galilee. Putting out to sea in the evenings was a grave risk, since the sudden storms that come up on the sea often occur at sundown. In this scene, the disciples were obeying the Lord's command against the odds for security. We tend to think that having Jesus in the boat would have spared them any trouble.

The disciples are not prepared for the action Jesus takes. He stills the storm at sea in an exhibition of God's power and control over creation. His question: "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?" is meant to convey to the disciples that their security lay in a different realm. When God is in control, no forces of destruction can touch them. The disciples fear the wrong things. Their reaction, however, is not initially to have more faith, but more fear.

The disciples were in for yet another shocking experience on the other side of the lake where Jesus heals a madman. Again, through the veil of flesh, the God of our salvation is revealed. Satanic forces had created a raving lunatic—a symbol of the whole world of humanity, collectively possessed by dark, destructive powers that seem out of control and beyond help or healing.

But look what we see Jesus do. He travels across a dangerous lake just to heal one poor, helpless demoniac—one who, in the eyes of others, is beyond hope. Jesus is the God who promises salvation from any kind of horror and a new, redeemed life. Then he commissions us to go and "tell how much the Lord had done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." Christ will bring the whole mad world to sit at his feet: healed, clothed and in its right mind.

Quietly consider:
What fear keeps me from trusting in God's power
to still my storms and calm my distress?

Prayer Starter
Jesus, help me overcome my fear so that...


©Copyright 2006 Living The Good News


The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee
The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, Bishop
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