Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 14C (RCL); Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40
The old prophets sound so relevant these days, one might almost think they’re speaking to us. Unfortunately, the lectionary this week leaves out some particularly trenchant remarks — Ah! sinful nation, people laden with wickedness, evil race, corrupt children! But then in the passage we read: “Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeed from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”
All of our ‘thoughts and prayers’ only burden God, until we do the rest. Though God says, “Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow. Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land.
And Jesus reassures us that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. Some early Christians had expected Jesus’ immediate return, which now seemed delayed. But they must stay ready, dressed for action, with lamps lit, so that when the master returned from the wedding feast, he would wait on them.
The Luke inserts this little saying, that is found elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel. “Sell your possessions. Give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will you heart be also.” This raises the question of what we value. If we value only power, violence will be always with us. If we value justice, peace will be its companion. What is at trade in our communities, what is the currency? The events of the past week call us to an honest accounting of where our treasure is.