Sunday Readings & Comments


Dear Beloved in Christ,

Once again, from Proper 28’s Collect — “hear (read each aloud) them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them.” Reflections and readings for this Sunday, 21st after Pentecost.

From the Collect — what if God answered this prayer personally for you? How does your faith need to be increased, or hope, or charity (love)? This is a very pertinent prayer for these days. And keep this prayer in mind as you read the Gospel for Sunday – and think about Jesus’ answer to the lawyer – all the law and prophets hang on it.

From Deuteronomy — even in death, Moses is a huge presence throughout Israel’s history. Israel mourns for thirty days, and then the next chapter, with Joshua, begins. By Moses laying hands on Joshua, the spirit of wisdom is passed on, but Moses is never forgotten. The last paragraph of the reading captures this. I have two thoughts – the Transfiguration where Moses is present, and the tradition of setting aside for special service on behalf of a community — “ordinations.” We are all ordained. The first and primary ordination is baptism into Christ and the community. The second — deacon, priest, bishop – is in service of God in the community of faith. The primary ministers are the laity.

The Psalm reflects on the mortality of all humankind. We tend to forget we are mortal and live as if we have forever. We do, but not in the way we think. We are like a dream – passing along through this world. The Psalmist implores the Lord to meet our need, and give divine assurance that results in great joy. Through times of suffering, struggle and doubt, the Psalmist reminds us the Lord never abandons us, even when he seems to “tarry.” When you look back, how quickly it goes. We return to dust — and in Christ we are robed anew. The legacy Moses implanted in Israel, lives on within and among us.

In the second chapter of First Thessalonians Paul continues to recall the relationship he shares with this church. It was not an abstract, intellectual, philosophical truth about God. It is the life of God in Christ expressed in such acts of love, as a mother cares for a child. Love of neighbor comes out of love for God. Again, this teaching prepares us for the Gospel.

In Matthew we continue stories of the controversies between Jesus and factions of religious leaders. He’s just weathered a test from Sadducees. Today, a lawyer, who interprets the Law of Moses, and a member of the Pharisee party, is sent to test Jesus. Jesus pulls the plug on them. He asks a question they can’t answer, one that foreshadows who he is, the Messiah. He is the Lord who would rule over David – a Messiah, God’s Son, they aren’t prepared to receive.

We shall look forward to worship together from our homes Sunday morning. May God’s grace and blessing continue to keep us, and strengthen us for the living of these days – Fr. Steve 

21st Sunday after Pentecost – Year A

October 25, 2020

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.
Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

The Response

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Domine, refugium

1 Lord, you have been our refuge *
from one generation to another.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the land and the earth were born, *
from age to age you are God.
3 You turn us back to the dust and say, *
“Go back, O child of earth.”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past *
and like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep us away like a dream; *
we fade away suddenly like the grass.
6 In the morning it is green and flourishes; *
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
13 Return, O Lord; how long will you tarry? *
be gracious to your servants.
14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; *
so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us *
and the years in which we suffered adversity.
16 Show your servants your works *
and your splendor to their children.
17 May the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us; *
prosper the work of our hands;
prosper our handiwork.


The Epistle

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

The Gospel

Matthew 22:34-46

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
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